Des Moines Art Center

4700 Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa



Photo taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey


Street View 


The earlier portion of the building is a major work of Eliel Saarinen near the end of his career. The construction of this building provided the City of Des Moines with an excellent art gallery. The process of its design provides insight on attitudes in Iowa in the mid-1940's toward modern architecture. The sculpture gallery constitutes the later portion of the building and represents the work of another noted architect, I.M. Pei, to whom it was important that his addition, built eighteen years later and programmatically different, should harmonize with and complement the older building. The process of the design of the addition shows how a much larger structure than originally contemplated was built. -- Historic American Buildings Survey

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on October 19, 2004
Reference number
Architectural style
Modern Movement: International Style
Area of significance
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
Museum; Auditorium; School
Current functions
Museum; School
Periods of significance
1925-1949; 1950-1974; 1975-2000
Significant years
1948; 1968; 1985
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 1
Contributing objects: 2


20th Century (29,077)
Built 1948 (163)
Built during 1940s (1,708)
Des Moines, Iowa (143)
Eliel Saarinen (5)
Granite (5,090)
Have Street View (43,291)
I.M. Pei (3)
International Style (257)
Iowa (2,480)
Limestone (8,192)
Modern Movement (2,555)
Polk County, Iowa (164)
Private owner (54,396)
School (4,946)

Update Log 

  • April 29, 2017: New Street View added by Bill Eichelberger
  • June 2, 2012: Imported photos from HABS/HAER