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Wells Fargo history museum opens in downtown Des Moines


Wells Fargo & Company unveiled a new history museum Thursday in downtown Des Moines. The 5,500-square-foot attraction is the company’s 12th history museum nationwide and the first one Wells Fargo has opened since 2011.

“This museum represents our commitment to, and connection with, the community,” said Don Pearson, Wells Fargo Bank regional president. “This beautiful museum — with all its amazing artifacts and interactive displays — is a great addition to downtown Des Moines and Iowa. Our community is going to love taking a ride through history in this museum that brings the story of Wells Fargo and our deep roots in Iowa to life.”

Admission is free to the museum located in the Wells Fargo bank lobby in the Financial Center building at 666 Walnut St. The museum — which showcases the shared stories of Wells Fargo, Iowa and U.S. history — is expected to attract more than 25,000 visitors annually. The museum will be open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Wells Fargo and its predecessor companies have a long and rich history in Des Moines and in Iowa,” said Franklin Codel, head of Wells Fargo’s West Des Moines-based Consumer Lending business. “The Wells Fargo Historical Services team created an experience that clearly depicts our company’s deep roots in Iowa, tells a fascinating story about the significant role that Wells Fargo has played in the evolution of the national mortgage lending business, and shines a light on the company’s proud service of its customers in Iowa and around the nation.”

Wells Fargo first displayed a stagecoach and other artifacts from the company’s California Gold Rush at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The company opened its first museum in San Francisco in 1927. In addition to San Francisco, the other Wells Fargo History Museums are located in Charlotte, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, Los Angeles, Anchorage, Alaska, and there are two in Sacramento.

Prep Iowa

The Des Moines museum is Wells Fargo’s first to include a rotating art gallery. The opening exhibition will feature about 20 pieces from the Wells Fargo collection by artists such as Andy Warhol, Alfred Stieglitz and Helen Frankenthaler. Those pieces are among more than 4,000 added to Wells Fargo’s collection after the 2007 acquisition of the brokerage A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc. The gallery will feature local artists on occasion as well.

Because of the art gallery, the museum will be one of the future stops along the new Art Route, a 6.6-mile painted connector path that will wind through downtown Des Moines from the State Capitol to Meredith Corporation. Wells Fargo is a major supporter of the Art Route, having made a $50,000 contribution.

The museum is considered a key piece of downtown Des Moines redevelopment and a significant new attraction for the region. Among the state and local dignitaries joining Wells Fargo officials to celebrate the grand opening of the history museum Thursday were Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie and Greater Des Moines Partnership CEO Jay Byers.

“The opening of the Wells Fargo History Museum is a significant step in the continued revitalization of Walnut Street in downtown Des Moines,” Byers said. “Today’s opening is another example of the strong corporate leadership in our community, and we are fortunate to have leaders like Wells Fargo driving momentum in Greater Des Moines.”


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