Des Moines Art Route Will Showcase Nearly 100 Pieces

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- There are nearly 100 pieces of public art in downtown Des Moines, but they often times get overlooked.

Des Moines is full of iconic art: the Green Umbrella at Cowles Commons and the Nomad at Western Gateway Park. But there are also many hidden pieces of art all around Des Moines.

The Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation is helping make art accessible to everyone. The nonprofit is in the process of creating a 6-mile art walk called ART RTE that will lead people through downtown stopping at public art along the route.

"The ART RTE actually connects you to 87 works of public art downtown and these are assessable 24/7, 365 [days a year.] It's something that everyone can go and enjoy but they can't necessarily find it," said Tiffany Tauscheck, with the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

She said a recent survey showed that out of the 3 million people that visit Des Moines, 750,000 came specifically for arts and culture. But only about half of those individuals couldn't find the art they were looking for.

“A lot of the other works are integrated into our infrastructure and they’re kind of hard to find,” said Jessica Rowe, with the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation.

Rowe said $210,000 has been raised to help make art more accessible with the ART RTE.

ART RTE route

ART RTE route

“Some works are a bit more temporary, some are permanent,” she said.

A 6-mile path from the Pappajohn Sculpture Park to the Capitol will be marked by colored circles and painted intersections helping guide people on their own art adventure.

“Out of the 90 iconic pieces, there are some that you pass every day. It's those hidden gems and the stories behind them the art route is hoping to highlight,” Rowe said.

Rowe said the hope is that people, both locals and visitors, will become much more engaged in public art.

“They’ll know more about it, and I think it can be transformative to see works and learn about our history, our community, and the uniqueness there is,” Rowe said.

The art route will also let users follow along on their mobile devices through a free app called Des Moines Public Art. The app provides even more information on the back story of the pieces and even links to the artists’ website.

The art route is expected to be completed in time for the Des Moines Arts Festival in June.