Art & Activism

The Art Centers holds multiple Art & Activism workshops each year in correlation with major exhibitions and featured artists. These multi-day free workshops for teens allow students to explore and experience ways of artmaking in the studios while also learning from practicing artists and their peers.

Keep an eye on the events calendar to stay up-to-date on Art & Activism workshops.

Art Spectrums

Art Spectrums is a free program for children and teens on the autism spectrum. Art Spectrums provides an opportunity for participants to exercise their creativity and build their self-esteem through sensory experiences that aid in the development of cognition, communication, and motor skills. Registration is required.

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Blind and Low Vision Community Art Gatherings

Through the Art Center’s Community Access Program, monthly art gatherings have been established to welcome people into the museum and studio space to create and connect with community. All supplies are provided, and the classes are free to attend with no registration required. Blind and Low Vision Community Art Gatherings take place at Studio #109 in Mainframe Studios.

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Creative Aging (55+)

Creative Aging is a program designed for adults age 55+ to gather at the Art Center and learn about art while making community connections and fostering cognitive health. An Art Center docent will lead the group in collaborative discussion, focusing on one work of art. The Creative Aging program occurs on the first Tuesday of each month at noon and 2 pm. Registration is required.

Keep an eye on the events calendar to stay up-to-date on upcoming programs.

Deaf Community Art Gatherings

Presented by the Art Center’s Community Access Program, we invite members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community to join us for weekly gatherings to embrace art and art-making together. Taught by artists Julia Phillips and Sarah Young Bear-Brown, Deaf community art gatherings will resume in the fall of 2024. The program is free to attend!

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Art Center Docents

Become a volunteer docent for the Art Center! As knowledgeable guides, docents lead tours of the museum and sculpture park, sharing their love of art with visitors. No prior art experience is required, and the Art Center provides all training. This rewarding opportunity is open to all education levels and backgrounds. Benefits include free membership, access to special resources, opportunities to meet artists, field trip possibilities, and more.

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Drop In Tours

Experience the Art Center with friends, family, and fellow art lovers while learning more about the works on view in the galleries during weekly drop in tours. An Art Center docent will guide you through  our permanent collections as well as thought-provoking exhibitions, sparking discussions about the artwork. All ages are welcome; no registration required. Gather in the Macomber Lobby on Saturdays at 1 pm.

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DSM Speaks

DSM Speaks is a program that offers opportunities for multiple interpretations of artwork and reinforces the idea that there is no wrong way to experience art. Community members write and record brief audio reflections on artwork in the permanent collections that inspired them. Visitors can access these recordings in the museum by the QR code found on selected artwork labels. Recordings can also be found through the DSM Speaks playlist.

If you are interested in creating your own DSM Speaks audio response, please contact Museum Educator Mia Buch at mbuch@desmoinesartcenter.org

Member Groups

Join an Art Center member group to experience even more the Art Center has to offer and beyond! Connect with community and fellow art lovers. Participate in workshops and opportunities like public art bike tours, a flashlight tour of the museum, art-making events, and more.

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LGBTQIA+ Community Art Gatherings (18+)

Through the Art Center’s Community Access Program, monthly art gatherings have been established to welcome people into the museum and studio space to create and connect with community. All supplies are provided, and the classes are free to attend with no registration required. LGBTQIA+ Community Art Gatherings for ages 18+ occur the second Monday of each month.

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LGBTQIA+ Teen Art Gatherings

The Art Center, in partnership with the Des Moines Queer Youth Resource Center,  hosts free drop-in art gatherings on the second Sunday of every month from 1 Р4 pm located at Mainframe Studios. For local teens ages 13-18, this is an opportunity to learn about art, tour the museum, tap into your creative side, and build community.

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Teen Academy

Join us in the studio for a nine-month program designed to assist motivated high school students in the development of a college art portfolio. The Teen Academy curriculum includes instructor-led classes, independent work days, class critiques, museum discussions, and guest artist sessions.

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