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3 Places to View Free Public Art in Downtown DSM

Public Art Locations

September 25, 2020

As Downtown Des Moines (DSM) continues to grow, so does the art scene in our city. Public art not only adds vibrancy to downtown but is also important for placemaking in our communities.

Art Route DSM

If you’re itching to get out of your house (while practicing social distancing), Art Route DSM is a great way to get your steps in while taking in great public art. You may have noticed the green dots on sidewalks and artwork in crosswalks in Downtown DSM. These will guide you along the six miles and 87 pieces of public art as you walk Art Route DSM. Click here to view a map of the route.

Pappajohn Sculpture Park

To start your art walk, I suggest beginning at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, located in Western Gateway Park. This 4.4-acre park includes 28 works of art. Audio tours are available. It’s also a great spot for picnic!

Historic East Village

The Historic East Village, located just east of the Des Moines River, hosts some great public art and messaging that continues to expand throughout the neighborhood. While you’re there, check out the many local retailers, bars and restaurants. Below are three not-to-miss artworks in the area:

Marsy's Law MuralMarsy’s Law

Artist: Kelsey Lampe
Location: 6th Street & Grand Avenue
Date created: 2018

Marsy’s Law guarantees victims the same rights as defendants. The namesake of the law, Marsalee Nicola, of California, was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. The accused murderer confronted the family just a week later in a grocery store. The family had not been notified he had been released on bail. Marsy’s Law is currently not part of the State of Iowa’s constitution. To learn more, visit marsyslawforiowa.com/about. Image from kelseylampe.com.

No Action Too Small MuralNo Action Too Small

Artist: Chris Vance
Location: Metro Waste Authority, East 2nd Street & East Locust Street
Date Created: 2013

Commissioned by Metro Waste Authority, this 30’x60’ mural incorporates items like plastic bottles and refrigerators into the piece. Find out more about No Action Too Small here. Image from dsmpublicartfoundation.org.

Bike Rack SculptureRack-n-Roll Project

Artists: Multiple
Location: Throughout the Historic East Village
Launch Date: 2005

You don’t have to ride a bike to notice these bike rack sculptures. The bicycle art racks are in eight separate locations east of the Des Moines River, along East Locust Street and East Grand Avenue. Image from dsmpublicartfoundation.org.

Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is a growing, vibrant community that offers the energy, sophistication, housing and attractions of a burgeoning city with a brilliant future. It’s also easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options.