Des Moines Art Center

John and Mary Pappajohn Director Dr. Kelly Baum stands in front of Carl Milles’ Man and Pegasus in the Bookey Family Courtyard at the Des Moines Art Center.

Q: What do you love about your career?
A: There are two things I love most about my career: working directly with artists, especially when I’m helping them realize brilliant ideas, and engaging with members of the public about art and culture. The exchange of ideas is exhilarating, and I enjoy learning from and alongside others.

Q: What are some guiding principles you’ve used in your career?
A: I’ve always held myself to high ethical and intellectual standards. Operating with integrity and rigor is key to my professional identity. I’m also deeply committed to collaboration; great ideas emerge from thoughtful discussions with others. Finally, I take seriously my responsibility to my colleagues, to artists and the public.

Q: Who inspires you?
A: I’m inspired by artists and writers like Wangechi Mutu. Wangechi’s unwavering commitment to art, women, justice, and community is a model for me. I admire her skill at finding beauty amid pain and her ability to think critically about the world while remaining optimistic about the future.

Q: What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
A: The summer after my last year of high school in 1989, I worked as a guide on the Alaska Railroad in Anchorage. I introduced tourists to the wonders seen from the train- from glaciers and salmon runs to Dall sheep and beluga whales in Cook Inlet.

4700 Grand Ave | Des Moines, IA 50312 (515) 277- 4405 | desmoinesartcenter.org

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