Winter at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa.

When the clouds cleared after a recent snowfall, I headed to downtown Des Moines for a quick winter walk through the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. For me, the conditions of fresh snow and sunshine are perfect for the sculpture park, especially if I can there before it’s covered with footprints. Of course, with clear skies, you typically also get bone-chilling temperatures. As in 5 degrees. Despite the cold, there was virtually no wind and that left me with the opportunity to fly my drone (DJI Mavic Air) for some aerial shots of the park.

Even at 5 degrees, I was surprised that the park wasn’t empty. I encountered several walkers and some taking their dogs out for a walk. You’ll find that walkways are cleared and grounds are well cared for – however, there are no public restrooms nearby, so keep that in mind.

Location: 1300 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa.


The history of the Pappajohn Sculpture Park

I have always loved the sculpture park. In my opinion, it’s what brought this town back to life – from Dead Moines back to Des Moines. The city purchased several blocks of run-down buildings, leveled them to create green space. Then John and Mary Pappajohn donated 20+ world-class sculptures (many that were originally in their own yard) to the project. With help from the City of Des Moines and the Des Moines Art Center, the project came to life and (in my opinion) completely changed downtown Des Moines.

An aerial shot of the entire sculpture park. This photo appears to be taken from high altitude – but it’s not. I sent the drone to about 300 feet (which is well within the 400 ft restriction) and then had it take a panoramic photo. The drone then takes 6 to 8 separate photos and merges them into this one photo. You can see the extreme warping on the sides of the photos which is created when the photos are merged.

My favorite sculpture in the winter is the Panoramic Awareness Pavilion by Olafur Eliasson. It’s a large circle with various colored glass panels, which project their colors onto the snow during clear winter days after a fresh snowfall.

Another view of OlafurEliasson’s Panoramic Awareness Pavilion, with the kaleidoscope rainbow effect projected onto the fresh snow.

The sculpture park’s signature piece in Nomade by Jaume Plensa. It uses individual letters to form the shape of a teenage boy with his arms over his knees while sitting down. For me, the Nomade

Looking east towards the Des Moines skyline with the Pappajohn Sculpture Park in the foreground. Parking (metered) is available around the perimeter of the park.

YouTube video
Drone aerial flight over the Pappajohn Sculpture Park after a fresh covering of snow.
YouTube video
Drone aerial footage showing the kaleidoscope rainbow effect when the sunlight shines through the Panoramic Awareness Pavilion Sculpture.

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