Hoyt Sherman Place: 

Des Moines' First Public Art Gallery

The Gallery  

     Des Moines Women’s Club (DMWC), founded in 1885, created the first art collection in the city of Des Moines, one of the earliest and most distinctive in Iowa. It focuses mainly on the art and patronage patterns of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including works by Iowa artists. DMWC founders decided to establish and fund a collection that could be viewed by the public. Its first purchase was a bronze statue of Joan of Arc exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, a sculpture still on display at Hoyt Sherman Place. The collection continued to grow and found its permanent home at Hoyt Sherman Place in 1907, becoming the first public art gallery in Des Moines. 

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The Place

     Hoyt Sherman Place is a vibrant cultural destination where people can connect with art, music, history, and one another. The venue offers an intimate theater experience with extraordinary acoustics, a beautiful historic mansion, and a majestic art gallery. Ever since Hoyt Sherman completed his family home in 1877, this lovely space in Sherman Hill has been a hub of connection. From one-of-a-kind events to sharing art and exploring history, this is the place to be in Des Moines. For more than 100 years, Hoyt Sherman Place has been part of the community and will be for the next 100. 


The Theater

     The 1,400-seat theater was completed. Many luminaries came to Hoyt Sherman Place to entertain. In its first two decades, honored speakers and performers included Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan (1925), Will Rogers (1925), John Philip Sousa (1925), Amelia Earhart (1933), Edna St. Vincent Millay (1938), Grant Wood (1939), and Agnes de Mille (1940). 

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