M. Jessica Rowe | Director
M. Jessica Rowe is director of the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation where, since 2010, she directs, administers, coordinates and implements the public art program.
Rowe has distinguished herself as a leader working to build and strengthen community partnerships through programs of national and global significance. A former art museum director, she has administered multimillion dollar operations in the visual arts. During her tenure as Director of the Blanden Memorial Art Museum, she led institutional change, cultivated stakeholders to garner national standing for the museum, organized major art exhibitions, and launched a comprehensive conservation program for its diverse permanent collections.In 1987, she was recruited to the Des Moines Art Center where she accomplished ambitious and mission-building agendas. As Deputy Director, she administered 12 departments, guiding multidisciplinary teams on complex art projects, and advancing negotiations that enabled art of our times to be integrated into public space. She served as the museum’s chief operating and financial officer, special project curator, and twice as the Acting Director.
For more than four years, Rowe worked as the Director of Programs & Initiatives for the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy (USCCD) where her imaginative efforts launched the National Awards for Citizen Diplomacy to benchmark Americans’ diplomatic accomplishments around the world. She oversaw USCCD design and publications and authored its book “Khrushchev in Iowa.”
Her work with American artists Kerry James Marshall, Jun Kaneko, Mickalene Thomas, Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues, Richard Serra, Bruce Nauman, and Mary Miss has resulted in major public art commissions. Contemporary culture and art have often been the focus of published articles, contributions to books, and exhibitions catalogues which Rowe has authored. She worked as guest curator for the University Museums, Iowa State University in Ames and the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York, as well as a writer for the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. She established an art collection program for the corporate headquarters of Federal Home Loan Bank, Des Moines; and mentored entrepreneurial women on conflict management and leadership style in Tunis, Tunisia.
Her community-based, professional service includes: Board of Directors and VP, Downtown Des Moines Neighborhood Association, IA; Public Art Commission Advisory Panel, Department of Cultural Affairs, State of Iowa; Roundtable on Creativity of The Aspen Institute, World Economic Forum, New Orleans, LA; Leadership Forum on International Relations, The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread, Racine, WI; Board of Directors, Preservation Management Institute, MN; Gala Co‐Chair, American Cancer Society, Des Moines, IA; Board of Directors, Des Moines Arts Festival, IA; Former President, Board of Directors, Upper Midwest Conservation Association (now Midwest Art Conservation Center), Minneapolis, MN.