Iowans are appreciative patrons of the arts, and communities large and small have nurtured the growth of art museums and galleries to offer a wide range of opportunities for residents and visitors.
Storm Lake boasts one of the state's best in the Witter Gallery, but several other cities offer exciting architecture and a variety of significant collections and exhibits as well.
The Sioux City Art Center
Dominated by a dramatic three-story glass atrium, this building is a centerpiece of downtown Sioux City. The facility offers several exhibition galleries, a lecture hall, Atrium Gift Gallery, the Junior League Hands On! Gallery for children, classrooms, a permanent collection gallery, and an environmentally designed vault to preserve the permanent collection. ARTSPLASH, the Art Center's annual outdoor festival, takes place along the Missouri riverfront each Labor Day weekend, and features a juried art show, performing arts, and festival food.
The Des Moines Art Center
An outstanding collection of 20th century art fills the Des Moines Art Center, but just as notable is the architecture of the structure itself. The three architects who contributed to the design of the museum, Eliel Saarinen, I.M. Pei, and Richard Meier, are among the greatest names in architecture of the 20th century. Saarinen's original stone building opened in 1948, followed by 1968 by Pei's bushhammered concrete addition and Meier's clad porcelain and granite addition in 1985. The Art Center sits on a knoll overlooking rose gardens of Greenwood Park, with lots of contemporary sculptures.
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
Housed in a former Carnegie Library building with a contemporary addition, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art maintains the largest collection of works by Grant Wood, Marvin D. Cone, and Mauricio Lasansky. Their masterpieces are always on display in the first-and second-floor galleries. The museum offers many other changing and permanent exhibits and museum gift shop.
Art plays an important role in Iowa's smaller communities too, providing special insight into the history and people of the region, and reflecting their values and interests.
The Charles H. MacNider Museum, Mason City
The American puppet master Bil Baird, a Mason City High School graduate, gained an enormous world-wide audience while working in New Your City. He created the "Goat Herd" marionette performance in the film The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews. The MacNider collection of Baird puppets is the largest holding of the puppeteer's work found anywhere. The MacNider displays feature puppets, marionettes, and other materials created and collected by Baird.
Old Brewery Art Gallery and Bed and Breakfast, Guttenberg
Innkeepers and artists Naser and Patricia Shahrivar invite guests to their historic building nestled at the foot of the Mississippi River bluffs in Guttenberg. The Old Brewery was built in 1858 by Frederick Lemme and brewed beer until 1891, when the owners and then became distributors for Gund Brewery of LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Closed during Prohibition, it now serves as a gallery for the Shahrivars' paintings and a cozy bed and breakfast inn.
Amana Arts Guild Gallery, High Amana
Artists of the early Amana Colonies produced functional items for use in the homes, workshops and kitchens of their communal society. Although the church elders frowned upon frivolous activities including art, practical items were often embellished with beautiful designs and color. Preserving the traditions of their ancestors, Amana resident still practice woodworking, willow basketry, quilting, balcksmithing, rug-making and weaving. Each September The Amana Arts Guild host a self-guided tour of the studios and workplaces of Amana Colony Artisans, showcasing painting, tin smithing, basketry, quilting and more.
The Lakes Art Center, Okoboji
Founded in a small, barn-like building and moved to its present home in 1991, the Lakes Art Center has always provided a cultural counterpoint to the fun and sun of Iowa's popular resort region. Visitors to the Lakes Art Center can enjoy the Pearson Art Collection, other works in the gallery's permanent and traveling collections, and exhibits by guest artists. The Art Center also contains a gift store and library, and offers art classes for all ages and skill levels. A summer film series, and Art in the Park, offer additional activities for vacationers and year-round residents.