Salisbury House & Gardens in Des Moines, Iowa, is home to library, fine art, rare book, historic document, decorative art and musical instrument collections of international significance, as recognized by appraisers, peers in the museum field, rare book librarians and collectors, and prominent media outlets. Signed books and documents by Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Charles Dickens, Queen Elizabeth I, Joseph Smith, D.H. Lawrence and many others tangibly bring history to life.
The books and art that Carl and Edith Weeks collected provide a rich repository for the study of world culture in all of its myriad, diverse forms, and demonstrates their commitment to promoting and empowering a literate, engaged citizenry. They built their home and collection in Des Moines with an eye toward future generations in Iowa and beyond, and the Salisbury House Foundation now works in their honor and memory to keep these treasures available and accessible to the public.
The halls of Salisbury House are lined with great works of art from such acclaimed artists as Anthony Van Dyck, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Joseph Stella, Lillian Genth, Jean Despujol, George Romney, Eduard Charlemont, John Carroll, and Leon Kroll. The Weeks' support of then-contemporary artists such as Stella and Genth directly boosted their careers the 1920s. Stella's "Apotheosis of the Rose" and "The Birth of Venus" are two internationally-acclaimed works commissioned by the Weeks. Both remain in the Salisbury House & Gardens collection. Three of Lillian Genth's paintings hang in Salisbury House & Gardens as well, including a portrait of Edith Weeks.
The Salisbury House Library is also an extraordinary repository of more than 3,000 rare and first edition books, ranging from hand-illuminated 13th Century psalteries through to manuscripts and first-editions of such 20th Century literary titans as James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and many others. These shelves also hold some 60 bibles -- including a leaf from the original printing of the Gutenberg Bible -- and many other significant religious tomes, including an 18th Century Qu'ran and a first edition Book of Mormon.
While the remarkable architecture at Salisbury House may be the first thing to draw visitors in, the exceptional collections contained within its walls are what truly make this a one-of-a-kind historic house museum experience. You can expect surprises at every turn during a Salisbury House & Gardens visit, making a tour of our collections a "must see" experience whenever you visit Des Moines, Iowa.