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Des Moines Art Center partners with Iowa Safe Schools to present Community Learning opportunity

Posted on Thursday, July 11, 2019

For Immediate Release
Contact: Barbara Briggie-Smith or Jordan Powers
Tel: 515.271.0343 or 515.271.0344
Email: or

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On Thursday, July 25, 6:30 pm, the Des Moines Art Center will present “Community Learning: LGBTQ+ Identity and How to be an Ally.” All ages are encouraged to attend this LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) learning opportunity presented by Iowa Safe Schools Director of Youth Engagement Becky Smith. The presentation will discuss three interrelated components: biological sex, gender identity, and sexual preference, and then move into actions for being an ally. Guests will leave with a better understanding of how to support the LGBTQ+ community. The event will take place in Levitt Auditorium, 4700 Grand Avenue; it is free and open to the public.

Jill Featherstone, director of education at the Art Center, explains “This community learning opportunity was inspired by the learning Art Center staff and volunteers embarked on as the exhibition and programming were organized for the groundbreaking exhibition Queer Abstraction. In the process, the Art Center enlisted the help of Becky Smith, and together with Assistant Curator Jared Ledesma, led a series of training sessions with staff and docents (volunteer tour guides) covering a lot of ground, from LGBTQ identities, pronoun use, alarming statistics about LGBTQ youth, legislative advancements and set-backs, to resources and allyship.”

According to Becky Smith, “Iowa Safe Schools is thrilled to build on the partnership with the Des Moines Art Center through this event. These dialogues are vital for creating safer and more inclusive communities for LGBTQ individuals, especially young people. As an organization, we are excited about these opportunities to foster community and allyship for all in Iowa.”

About the Des Moines Art Center

Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum in the heart of the Midwest, the Des Moines Art Center has amassed an important collection with a major emphasis on contemporary art. The collection’s overriding principle is a representation of artists from the 19th century to the present, each through a seminal work. This accounts for an impressive collection that ranges from Edward Hopper’s Automat to Jasper Johns’ Tennyson, Henri Matisse’s Woman in White, Georgia O’Keeffe’s From the Lake No. 1, Francis Bacon’s Study after Velásquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Bill Viola’s Ascension, and Cecily Brown’s Half-Bind.

The Art Center’s physical complex marries with the collection for a totally integrated experience. The collection is housed in three major buildings, each designed by a world-renowned architect – Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei, and Richard Meier. With the exception of special events, admission to the museum is free.

In September 2009, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park opened in Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park. Philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn have provided funding for and donated 28 sculptures by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists to the Des Moines Art Center. The collection of sculptures by such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Willem de Kooning, Olafur Eliasson, Keith Haring, Ellsworth Kelly, Jaume Plensa, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, and Mark di Suvero, is the most significant donation of artwork to the Art Center in a single gift in the museum’s history. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park was created in collaboration with the Pappajohns, the City of Des Moines, the Des Moines Art Center, and numerous corporate and private donors.

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