Open to visitors since Sept. 2009, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park has become a staple of downtown Des Moines.
According to Christine Doolittle, director of marketing and public relations at the Des Moines Art Center, John and Mary Pappajohn are philanthropists in Des Moines, Iowa that have been collecting artwork since they were married.
When they noticed people driving by to look at a sculpture in their yard, they thought Western Gateway Park, which had just opened during the revitalization of downtown, would be a good spot for it.
They donated their art to the Des Moines Art Center and Western Gateway Park. There were initially 16 sculptures in the park, which eventually became a total of 28 as of today. All of the sculptures were donated by the Pappajohns or commissioned specifically for the park.
Doolittle loves how the city has embraced the sculpture park.
“We knew that it would be a fantastic addition to the city of Des Moines, but the fact that the community has embraced it as they have has been really thrilling for us,” Doolittle said. “It’s almost as if the park has become iconic for Des Moines, you see it every time you see anything about Des Moines.”
Being free and close, Drake students have also embraced and enjoyed the sculpture park.
Sophomore Jessica Didominick likes that it is open any time of year and believes it creates a nice entrance for the city.
“My favorite sculpture is the one of the person made out of letters (Nomade),” Didominick said. “I think it’s really unique.”
Sophomore Maura Scott’s favorite piece is Panoramic Awareness Pavilion for its endless colors and happy vibes.
Scott feels the sculpture park brings people together in a place to enjoy art.
“The fact that it’s free is really nice because it gives everyone the opportunity to enjoy art, no matter what socioeconomic status they are in, which is really important,” Scott said.
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