Des Moines Art Center with Kids

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Des Moines Art Center with Kids 

As an educator, I was able to visit the Des Moines Art Center for several field trips. Then, once I became a mom I brought my oldest here as an infant to escape the winter months. As my two children became energetic toddlers, I was slightly terrified to visit again. But I’m glad I did! Not many would think the heart of the Midwest would offer such an extensive art museum, but Des Moines does!

Here are a few tips for visiting the Des Moines Art Center with kids and other fun details to create art lovers in your kids.

Des Moines, Iowa, Des Moines Art Center

About the Des Moines Art Center

The Des Moines Art Center is located off Grand Avenue in Des Moines, Iowa. The Art Center consists of three buildings including the Richard Meier Building, Eliel Saarinen Building, and I.M. Pei Building which features a reflecting pool. Between these three beautiful architectural buildings, it is an exceptional place to house art.

This world-class museum holds art history and many collections from the 19th century to the present day mainly focusing on contemporary artists. Not only are they a museum, but they are an art school providing classes and education for all ages to create art.

What is the cost to visit the Des Moines Art Center?

The Des Moines Art Center is free for all to visit making it easily accessible to introduce art to children. A fun day date idea!

Before You Go 

First, prepare your kids ahead of time for what to expect. Remind them that they can look at it but can’t touch the artwork. It might be fun to play art gallery before you go. Set up a room with children’s art on the walls and practice walking through, observing, and talking about the art. For little ones bring a stroller or carrier. Take a virtual tour for a preview. Watch this video ahead of time for more tips on visiting the Art Center. Des Moines Art Center has a fantastic resource page for families. 


At first, my 4-year-old son was hesitant to explore. But once I started talking about the art and asking him questions, he opened up. He had so much to say about each piece! We discussed how the different pieces were made, the materials used, and more.

Des Moines Art Center has permanent, outstanding collections which include an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, and special exhibits that change every few months. One popular art piece in the Edward Hopper is titled “Automat”. They also feature artists of Iowa every once in a while. Feel free to explore the center on your own or try a guided tour. For group tours, reach out to

If your child likes a mission, try this Architecture Scavenger Hunt that will keep your children engaged.

Lunch Break

Take a break and enjoy lunch at Tangerine, located right in the middle of the art center. If you are lucky to visit on a warm day, enjoy your meal in the courtyard. They are open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  

To finish your visit, stop by the Shop at the Art Center to get a souvenir. 

Art Classes and Summer Classes

Des Moines Art Center educational programs start at age 3 and go through to adults.  An excellent first class, My Little Artist & Me (ages 3-5)  is a series of one-day workshops that include a gallery visit, making of art, storytime, and musical instruments. Take a class and learn about a variety of arts such as calligraphy, ceramics, printmaking, photography, and more. 

Summer camps are offered from June through August for youth ages 5-15. Each week has a different theme such as comics, under the sea, and forest friends. Thanks to the wonderful donors and sponsors of the Des Moines Art Center they are able to offer scholarships for classes and summer camps.

Entirely Kids Day

If you are hesitant to visit, the Des Moines Art Center hosts special events such as Entirely Kids Day twice a year in March and November. The day is created just for the kids to enter the art museum and explore. They offer fun hands-on art projects, live music, snacks, and much more. Keep your eyes open for the next one and put it on your calendar.

More Art to Explore 

Step outside the Art Center and explore the Rose Garden and the sculptures. A perfect activity before or after your visit to burn off energy. 

Don’t forget to visit the Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park located in downtown Des Moines which offers an audio tour as you walk through the outdoor park.

Location and Details

Address: 4700 Grand Ave. Des Moines, Iowa, United States

Phone: 515-277-4405


Jackie Fioritto

Jackie Fioritto

Hi, I’m Jackie. I am a teacher who recently became a stay-at-home mother of two. My husband and I moved to Des Moines from Green Bay, Wisconsin a few years ago. Originally, I am from Chicago, Illinois. My family has loved exploring Des Moines and all that it has to offer!

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