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Iowa Arts: Create, Explore, Discover

Des Moines is undeniably the cultural and artistic heart of Iowa, but you’ll also find an inspiring array of artistic attractions dotted throughout the state. Home of the Des Moines Symphony, the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines is the largest arts venue in Iowa. In addition to symphonies, you can watch ballets, music concerts, and Broadway shows in this spectacular venue. Visit the world-class Des Moines Art Center nearby to explore an impressive collection of contemporary art.

Art lovers will enjoy strolling the Main Street Cultural District in Ames, a focal point of arts and culture. Discover art walks, music walks, seasonal festivals, and farmer’s markets. Savor a farm-to-table dinner before you catch a live show at the Octagon Center for the Arts. In eastern Iowa, the Grant Wood home and studio pays homage to the local painter who created the masterpiece, American Gothic. Explore more of his works plus international folk art at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. Heading west? The Sioux City Arts Center features exhibitions and hands-on activities for kids.

Civic Center of Greater Des Moines

The largest theater in Iowa, the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines is a 2,744-seat performing arts venue located in downtown Des Moines. Set along the Des Moines River in central Iowa, the center was construction in 1979.

The Civic Center of Greater Des Moines is part of the Des Moines Performing Arts along with two other area theaters: Stoner Studio Theater and Temple for the Performing Arts. The center is home to the Des Moines Symphony, traveling Broadway series, and much more.

Des Moines Art Center

The Des Moines Art Center is an world-class museum, located in the capital city of Des Moines, Iowa. Stroll the museum to view the collection of contemporary art from the 19th and 20th century. The museum's permanent collection includes work from Edward Hopper's Automat and Georgia O'Keeffe's From the Lake No. 1.

Additional collections are also represented in the museum from donations. These include the John C. Huseby Print Collection and the Nathan Emory Coffin Collection. The museum's emphasis on education remains an important factor.

Fairfield Arts & Convention Center

Featuring the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts, the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center is the exclusive place in Fairfield, Iowa to watch a show. The facility was built in 2007 with a 552-seat theater within the Stephen Sondheim Center. The Sondheim Center features off-Broadway shows, theater, music and a variety of entertainment with state-of-the-art equipment.

The Fairfield Arts & Convention Center also contains over 12,000 feet of space for rent. Areas for rent include the Manufacturers Association Expo Hall, Dick and Judy Smith meeting room, Iowa Sate Bank Atrium, and a commercial kitchen.

Grant Wood Art Gallery

The Grant Wood Art Gallery pays tribute to the life and art work of American painter, Grant Wood. His most-famous painting titled, American Gothic, depicts a rural farmer with his pitchfork and woman standing in front of a Gothic Revial style cottage. American Gothic has been displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago since 1930.

The gallery is located in Anamosa, Grant Wood's birthplace, in eastern Iowa. Visit Anamosa, located northeast of Cedar Rapids, to stroll through the Gallery and learn about Wood's life. Be sure to view the large collection of American Gothic parodies on display and other examples of his work.

Main Street Cultural District

Affiliated with the Ames Chamber of Commerce, the Main Street Cultural District is located in downtown Ames in central Iowa. An epicenter for Ames events, shopping, and cultural sites, the Ames Main Street Cultural District was established in 2004 – becoming official in 2005.

The Ames Main Street Cultural District is home to the Octagon Center for the Arts, and hosts events like the Octagon Art Festival, the Ames Main Street Farmers' Market, Tune In to Main Street, and festivities like art walks, music walks, Fourth of July, and more.

Sioux City Art Center

Established in 1938, the Sioux City Art Center strives to provide an educational experience for visitors, as well as appreciation for the arts. This not-for-profit center has showcased a variety of international, national and local art, and encourages visitors to Ssroll this wonderful Iowa center to view the 1,000 works of art in the Permanent Collection.

Schedule time for an art class or program for a hands-on experience – as a variety of classes are available from one-day workshops to eight-week classes. Kids love the Hands-On! Gallery where they can doodle, draw on the mirror wall, build Legos, and enjoy more fun activities.

Waterloo Center for the Arts

The Waterloo Center for the Arts (WCA) proudly hosts a variety of permanent art collections. Featured regional art includes work by American Gothic painter Grant Wood, Mexican and International Folk Art, and the largest collection of Haitian Art in the country.

Other attractions at the art center include the Phillips Youth Pavilion, a great place for kids, and the RiverLoop Amphitheatre, frequently hosting concerts and events. Be sure to take in some of the finest art and culture Waterloo has to offer during your next visit to eastern Iowa – it's a short drive from nearby Independence.