MuseumMinute

Architecture: Des Moines Art Center

One of the pleasant surprises I had upon moving to Des Moines was discovering the lovely Des Moines Art Center. I’ve oohed and aahed over it previously (here too!), but today I would like to highlight it’s lovely architecture.


In the Saarinen Lobby

For those of you who think Iowa is simply a giant field of corn with a pig in the middle of it, check this out:

As noteworthy as the art collection is at the Des Moines Art Center, the museum likewise boasts an outstanding collection of architecture. The three architects who have collaborated in the design of the museum, Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei and Richard Meier, are among the greatest names in architecture of the 20th century. Though each represents a very different style and period of modern architecture, their combined efforts, starting with Saarinen’s original Lannon stone building, followed in 1968 by Pei’s bushhammered concrete addition, and Meier’s three-part clad porcelain and granite addition in 1985, have resulted in a unique architectural achievement. [from here]

Pretty neat stuff, huh? I am curious to learn more about the challenges the curators have faced over the years, trying to preserve and install artwork in an architecturally significant (and perhaps overly artistic) space. For example, the Meier space welcomes a lot of sunlight, which has to be taken into consideration when deciding which pieces to place in the galleries.

But, for today, back to the pretty photos:

A view of the I. M. Pei section from the courtyard

and, last but not least,

A view of the restaurant/Meier section from the courtyard

And yes, that’s me in the wedding dress. Are you tired of seeing our wedding photos everywhere yet? 🙂

I’ll admit, I am particularly enamored with the Saarinen portion of the building–the original section–perhaps because A. It’s by Eliel Saarinen (who drew the famous but not realized Tribune Tower drawing) and B. His son, Eero designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the University of Chicago Law School (U of C being right down the road from where I used to work.)

So now you know. Iowa is more than corn and pigs. Hooray!

4 thoughts on “Architecture: Des Moines Art Center

  1. By the way, I grew up in a Des Moines suburb, which afford me the opportunity to take art classes at the Art Center. I remember the big plug, and the installation of people who looked very real, but weren’t. I think my parents might still have a weaving I made and I also remember doing clay, but not what I produced. I seem to also remember sketching in the botanical garden. then we moved away. sigh.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Architecture: Des Moines Art Center | Museum Minute -- Topsy.com

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