As part of the Des Moines Art Center’s new My Museum Monday program, each month an Art Center member is invited to spend time in the museum when the building is normally closed to the public. We received dozens of applications to take part in this experience and are excited to begin sharing them with you.

On a quiet Monday morning in June, Eric Heininger got up to get ready for work as if it was any other day. However, instead of heading straight to the office, he found himself at the Art Center at 5:20 am. The sun had not even fully risen yet, but he wanted to begin this day by experiencing the Art Center’s world-renowned collection. He walked through the galleries in quiet contemplation with only the natural light of the sunrise illuminating the artworks. After an hour of strolling through the galleries, he said goodbye and went to work. He had a full schedule this day, packed with meetings and other duties that needed his attention. Over 12 hours passed, and Eric found himself back at the Art Center; this time at 8:20 pm. The sun was starting to set. Again, he strolled through the galleries and witnessed the objects in the museum slowly shut down for the night, no longer visible to the human eye as the galleries grew dark.

For Eric, this My Museum Monday experience was a calm and relaxing experience. “On one of the longest days of the year, this was the only quiet time I had. The time to reflect is just what I needed,” Eric said. “The experience bookended my day with meditation and excitement.”

When asked why he wanted to observe the museum during sunset and sunrise, he responded, “Natural light has a way of really bringing pieces to life. The limitation is that during dawn and dusk, certain colors and textures are muted and others are even bolder. The low light really makes you focus on what is there.”

Eric’s experience reminded him that art is always here for us. “When the days get busy, the art stands still. When we are bustling, there are moments of peace.” This is why he supports the Art Center as a member. Eric shares our vision that the children and families of this community deserve to experience the beauty of the museum. He recommends future My Museum Monday applicants visit the Art Center at dawn before work starts. “Like a good workout or stroll in the morning, it will leave you feeling good all day!”