Art lovers, creatives, and those looking to expand their interests in Des Moines can take advantage of the city’s many cultural and historic structures.
From world-renowned artists to local talents, residents and visitors have the opportunity to experience beautiful, thought-provoking work in the museums and art galleries of Des Moines.
6 Must-Visit Museum and Art Galleries in Des Moines
1. Des Moines Art Center
A modern and contemporary art museum, the Des Moines Art Center seeks to influence transformational experiences through exhibitions, collections, and educational programming.
In addition to exhibiting the work of national artists, the Art Center features:
- Iowa Artists 2022, an installation featuring artists from the state. This exhibition runs until January 15, but new exhibits are regularly featured!
- Classes offered for all ability levels in an accessible and safe space.
- The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park that displays artwork by more than two dozen celebrated artists from around the world.
- My Museum Monday, when the museum is closed to the public and members have the opportunity to spend up to three hours with the museum to themselves.
- Conversations and gallery talks with curators and artists about current exhibitions.
- Virtual tours for those who want to explore a few galleries online.
Plus, admission is free!
2. Moberg Gallery
Moberg Gallery represents contemporary artists from around the world who work in multiple media and forms. If you’re interested in witnessing the work of a diverse group of modern artists, this is the place for you!
Each exhibit is curated based on a theme that is affirmed or upended by the selected artists. After seeing an exhibit, you can learn more about the series and artists by visiting the website’s documentation page.
A short list of Moberg’s additional offers includes:
- Art consultation and advisory
- Museum-quality framing
- Site-specific artworks
- Living painting events
- Public art and murals
- And much more!
If you’re an art collector, the works on display can be purchased online.
3. Kavanaugh Gallery
Kavanaugh Gallery showcases the personal collection of Dan and the late Carole Kavanaugh, which might be why this gallery has a more intimate feel than others.
After a lifetime of collecting art for the pure joy of it, Dan and Carole opened their gallery in the historic Valley Junction shopping district in West Des Moines. The gallery features fine art from around the state, country, and world, including original paintings, an extensive selection of sculptures, limited edition prints, antique and reproduction prints and posters, and much more.
If you’re an artist, the gallery offers affordable, collaborative framing services.
4. Artisan Gallery 218
Artist-owned Artisan Gallery 218 is the only Des Moines art gallery on this list dedicated to promoting the work of Iowa artists. Featuring the work of more than 40 Iowa artists, this fine art gallery has become one of the most-talked-about galleries in the area for its range of styles that cater to diverse tastes.
Spend the day admiring the beautiful artwork, take a class, attend or book an event, or decorate your home with artwork created by fellow Iowans.
5. Mainframe Studios
A creative space located in downtown Des Moines, Mainframe Studios provides studio space for working artists, classes taught by artists, and gallery spaces for artists to showcase their work.
Mainframe Studios emerged from a need to fill a void in Des Moines’ lack of dedicated working space for professional artists. In fact, many artists were working from their homes before this space opened! Keeping to their roots, when the studio space is rented out for events, Mainframe Studios encourages them to feature various artists.
6. Polk County Heritage Gallery
For those who like to mix their environmental ethics with their art appreciation, Polk County Heritage Gallery has a mission of maintaining a 100% sustainable, volunteer-run gallery with a multi-use exhibition space for artistic and historical exhibits.
Transportation in Des Moines
Ready to visit some of the most compelling galleries and museums in Des Moines? Whether you’re traveling locally or from out of town, you have various transportation options to choose from:
- DART is the largest public transportation provider in Des Moines, providing resources for those who vanpool, walk, or bike in Altoona, Ankeny, Bondurant, Clive, Des Moines, Grimes, Johnston, Pleasant Hill, Polk County, Urbandale, West Des Moines, and Windsor Heights.
- WesleyLife Communities for Healthy Living offers transportation services for residents and opportunities to visit local events with a group.
Explore Des Moines With Friends at WesleyLife
The only thing that makes visiting an art gallery in Des Moines better is experiencing and discussing the artwork with like-minded people. When living in a community, it’s easy to do what you love, find joy, and live a healthy lifestyle that goes beyond diet and exercise.
If you’re interested in learning more about the opportunities awaiting you in Des Moines, read our free “The Complete Guide to Healthy Living in the Des Moines Metro Area.”