Nomade by artist Jaume Plensa | Figure made from white letters | Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

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Sculpture parks are always a roadside-attraction lover’s goldmine as they are often packed with weird and wonderful statues from a variety of artists around the world. As such, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa did not disappoint.

Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa
Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park is a 4.4 acre park located in downtown Des Moines. It is part of the Des Moines Art Center and opened in 2009. It opened with 24 world-class sculptures and continues to grow. In 2019, there were 27 sculptures in the park.

Explore a sample of the sculptures below and learn more about what you’ll find at the sculpture garden on their website.

Moonrise, east. january & Moonrise, east. august

Artist Ugo Rondinone created twelve Moonrise sculptures, one for every month of the year, to represent the relationship between humans and the moon. Two of these, January and August, are on display in Des Moines.

Moonrise, east. january by Ugo Rondinone | Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa
Moonrise, east. august by Ugo Rondinone | Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

Nomade

This giant figure is made from a scrambling of white letters. The artist, Jaume Plensa used letters that on their own mean little but together form powerful words as a metaphor for human nature.

Nomade by artist Jaume Plensa | Figure made from white letters | Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa
Nomade by artist Jaume Plensa | Figure made from white letters | Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

Untitled (Three Dancing Figures, version C)

This 1989 Keith Haring piece displays three bright and energetic figures dancing in a circle.

Keith Haring Three Dancing Figures 1989 | Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa
Keith Haring Three Dancing Figures 1989 | Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

T8

Mark di Suvero’s 1987 piece “T8” is a giant red sculpture wade from steel crossed I-beams. As you wander the park and see it from different vantage points the art changes shape.

Mark di Suvero T8 | Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa
Mark di Suvero T8 | Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

White Ghost

Yoshitomo Nara’s 2010 sculpture White Ghost depicts a glossy fiberglass child on a stone base.

White Ghost by Yoshitomo Nara | Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

Pumpkin

Yayoi Kusama’s 2014 sculpture “Pumpkin” looks like a pumpkin. The dot work on the metal squash is a trademark of the artist and represents infinity, repetition, and obsession. The gourd itself represents comfort, familiarity, and whimsy.

Pumpkin sculpture by Yayoi Kusama | Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

LOVE

LOVE is the iconic artwork by artist Robert Indiana. This is one of many editions of this signature piece found around the world.

LOVE by Robert Indiana | Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

Back of Snowman (White and Black)

Artist Gary Hume presents here two glossy sculptures titles “Back of Snowman” in both black and white. The pieces are playful and interactive as there is no front to the snowman so as you walk around, there is no discernible front of back.

Back of Snowman (White and Black) by Gary Hume | Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

Ancient Forest

For “Ancient Forest” artist Deborah Butterfield used found materials to assemble a horse.

Deborah Butterfield Ancient Forest Horse | Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

Thinker on a Rock

In “Thinker on a Rock” artist Barry Flanagan does a play on Rodin’s “Thinker” replacing man with rabbit.

Barry Flanagan Thinker on a Rock Rabbit | Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

Spider

Artist Louise Bourgeois saw spiders as representing her mother, a weaver who was also sick. The arachnid reflected her fragility and strength in one.

Spider by Louise Bourgeois | Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park isn’t the only thing to check out in downtown Des Moines. Be sure to see another sculpture, Plantoir (the giant garden trowel), the Unbridled Native American Woman and Horse Sculpture in Des Moines, IA and the Cheers from Des Moines mural, all just down the block from the park!


The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Address: 1330 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa
Hours: Sunrise to midnight
Cost: Free


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Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa
Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa
Val

Val is the founder and head road tripper at Silly America. Having grown up near Berwyn's famed car kabob, The Spindle, and a restaurant with a cow on its roof, her fascination with roadside attractions started early. Today, Val has visited over 300 roadside attractions across 31 states and is constantly on the lookout for the next BIG thing!

Val also blogs about her life, travels, and cats on her personal blog, Choosing Figs.

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