Iowa has a pretty expansive art scene—one which is often celebrated best through local murals and public art displays. Regardless of what city you’re in, you’re bound to find an artsy wall mural or display that you can connect to. Here are some of Iowa’s best murals to visit and snap a pic in front of—for Instagram, of course.
“My Heart Belongs to Des Moines”
This mural’s meaning is pretty self-explanatory thanks to the title, but at its core, it’s a love letter to the city of Des Moines and the people who inhabit it. Located at the intersection of Seventh and Park Streets, the “My Heart Belongs to Des Moines” mural acts as a sort of welcome sign to locals and visitors alike. Over the years, the colorful and thoughtful artwork—crafted by artist Jenna Brownlee—has become a staple element of Des Moines.
“Reciprocal of Humanity”
The “Reciprocal of Humanity” mural is located at 202 N. Linn St. on Market House in Iowa City. The public art display showcases two Black women with goldfinches elevated above them. The mural was erected following the Black Lives Matter protests which took place all across the United States in June 2020. And while the art display can be up for interpretation, the mural is really meant to shine a light on the disparities that minorities—particularly African Americans—experience within the United States.
Character Mural by Chris Vance
While this untitled mural might not have a specific focus or tie to Des Moines, it does boast a number of quirky characters and faces that, in many ways, perfectly depicts the eclectic and welcoming culture of the city. So many of Iowa’s residents come from different places and walks of life—and perhaps in some capacity, this original mural by artist Chris Vance seamlessly brings that spirit to life. This mural is located on the wall of the University Library Cafe is Des Moines.
Murals that celebrate the culture of Iowa and its welcoming cities seems to be a theme throughout the state. In Des Moines, the famous “Better Together” mural—an art piece by Ben Schuh which is located on the west side of the Renaissance Des Moines Savery Hotel—achieves just that through a color postcard vibe aesthetic that depicts iconic Iowa landmarks and is accented by silhouettes of people holding hands across the bottom of the mural.