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Pappajohn Sculpture Park: Des Moines, Iowa

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Sometimes you find some pretty cool places when you get to a new city. On day 5 of our Midwest Road Trip, we finished our visit at the John Wayne Birthplace Museum and didn’t have any specific plans for the rest of the night. So we found our hotel in Des Moines and then drove downtown to explore the John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park.

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Pappajohn Sculpture Park: Des Moines, Iowa

Pappajohn Sculpture Park: Des Moines, Iowa

This free city park is part of the Des Moines Art Center and is open to the public from sunrise to midnight. We found a parking spot across the street from the Sculpture Park and wandered around the 4.4 acre open park.

Pappajohn Sculpture Park: Des Moines, Iowa

You don’t have to be an art fanatic to appreciate and enjoy the different exhibits. Just give everyone a little space to explore and find the best angles to take their pictures.

Pappajohn Sculpture Park: Des Moines, Iowa


We loved visiting after dark, but I’d love to go back sometime and experience the Pappajohn Sculpture Park in the daytime. I think it would be a gorgeous place when the skies are blue.

Pappajohn Sculpture Park: Des Moines, Iowa

The 4.4 acre park, located within a major crossroads of the urban grid, creates a pedestrian-friendly entryway to downtown Des Moines. This accessible setting, coupled with the skilled landscape design and caliber of the art, makes it unlike any other sculpture park in the United States. The Pappajohns’ contribution of 28 works for the park is the most significant donation of artwork ever made to the Des Moines Art Center.

Pappajohn Sculpture Park: Des Moines, Iowa

It’s hard to pick a favorite of the sculptures. We were fascinated by the sculptures and took our time at each of the art pieces. The Nomade Sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa was one of our favorites.

Pappajohn Sculpture Park: Des Moines, Iowa - The Nomade

A sculpture made completely of letters is a great place to get inspired to write a new novel or short story.

Pappajohn Sculpture Park: Des Moines, Iowa The Nomade


Things to Know

  • There is no admission fee to walk around the Sculpture Garden.
  • Parking is available on the street around the park.
  • The park is flat with no steps; easily accessible with a wheelchair or stroller.
  • We did not see any restrooms at the Sculpture Park.
Pappajohn Sculpture Park: Des Moines, Iowa White Ghost
Yoshitomo Nara
White Ghost, 2010

Find Sculpture Park

1330 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA

The sculpture park is open during city park hours, which are sunrise to midnight.

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