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Amazing Iowa Culture: Music, Art, and Museums
Explore. Discover. Connect with the authentic character of Iowa and embrace its unique culture. Be ‘wowed’ at impressive science and history museums. Seek out artistic experiences in funky galleries and neighborhoods. Understand the story of Iowa’s immigrants, artists, and history-making residents. Be entertained and feel inspired. Feel alive in Iowa.
Music, Theaters, and Outdoor Venues
From blockbuster Broadway shows to intimate performances by local bands, Iowa’s stages provide top-quality entertainment. Superstars on nationwide tours play at the Des Moines Civic Center and Wells Fargo Arena - the city is a hub for the hottest performances. Des Moines also boasts a dynamic live music scene, as does the college town of Iowa City. Restored vintage playhouses host live events across the state. Find historic theaters in Iowa City, Knoxville, Cresco, and Mount Ayr, to name a few. In the summertime, Iowa’s inviting outdoor venues deliver al fresco entertainment. Many feature beautiful waterfront locations, including RiverLoop Amphitheatre in Waterloo, McGrath Amphitheatre in Cedar Rapids, and Simon Estes Amphitheatre in Des Moines.
Artistic Iowa: Museums, Cultural Districts, and Sculpture Parks
Be inspired by one-of-a-kind art museums and lively cultural neighborhoods in Iowa. Grant Wood is the state’s most famous artist; his masterpiece American Gothic is one of the most recognizable paintings of the 20th century. Discover more about the painter at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. Interested in contemporary works? Admire spectacular collections at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, the Mooney Art Collection in Charles City, and the Des Moines Art Center. Ames’ Main Street Cultural District is a cool enclave of galleries, art walks, and boutiques. Discover cool public art installations in Council Bluffs and at Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines. For folk art and craft shopping, head to the Amana Colonies or the Czech Village in Cedar Rapids.
Incredible Science Centers and Planetariums
Gain a deeper understanding of the planet at Iowa’s fascinating science museums. Dive into the world of dinosaurs, robots, outer space, lasers, technology, archaeology and more. One of the top science centers is the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, which is an affiliate of the Smithsonian. Check out twelve aquariums and playful, hands-on exhibits at this popular Dubuque attraction. In Downtown Des Moines, the Science Center of Iowa features two floors of interactive activities, a planetarium, and IMAX Theater. Learn about lightning and touch a 12-foot python in Waterloo at the Grout Museum District. The Bluedorn Science Imaginarium and Grout Museum of History and Science located here offer unparalleled insight - and unprecedented awe.
Unique History and Culture Museums
Dig just beneath the green corn fields and quiet rural communities of Iowa to find a rich history and compelling cultural heritage. Discover the story of immigrants who settled in the state at the National Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids, the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn, and the Vesterheim Norwegian Museum in Decorah. See how farming transformed the Midwest at Living History Farms in Urbandale. Learn how an orphan became the President of the United States at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch - you can visit his boyhood home while you’re there. Iowa is also home to specialty museums that showcase the quirky and the unique, including motorcycles, tractors, classic cars, hobos, and farm toys. For a true only-in-Iowa experience, don’t miss the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum at the World’s Largest Truck Stop in Walcott.