November 10, 2015

Des Moines selected for latest Wells Fargo history museum

Wells Fargo’s 12th history museum will open in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, in autumn 2016.

Wells Fargo Historical Services will locate its 12th history museum in downtown Des Moines, Iowa — the latest in a network of museums that started in San Francisco in 1927 to showcase the company’s shared history with communities.

Expected to open in autumn 2016 in the lobby of the Financial Center building at 666 Walnut St., the historical display will be the company’s first museum addition since the Charlotte and Philadelphia museums opened in 2011.

The free museum is expected to become a popular destination for school and other groups, with more than 25,000 visitors anticipated annually. In 2014, the 11 existing Wells Fargo history museums welcomed a record 600,000 visitors, including 1,000 school groups and 25,000 students.


Map of Wells Fargo History Museum locations

“It is our great pleasure to welcome the Wells Fargo History Museum to downtown Des Moines,” says Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership — an economic and community development organization serving central Iowa. Together with 21 affiliate Chambers of Commerce and 5,700 business members, the Partnership works to create jobs and promote Greater Des Moines for business relocation or development.

“This game-changing project is a key capstone of our collective Walnut Street revitalization efforts and a significant attraction that showcases our vibrant region on the national stage,” Jay says. “Wells Fargo is central Iowa’s largest employer, and this museum, one of only 12 of its kind, will honor the deep tradition and history that unites the company and the central Iowa region.”

The 5,500-square-feet museum will occupy storefront space on the same Financial Center floor that houses one of the company’s banking stores.

The area revitalization plan features parallel on-street parking spaces, LED lighting, benches, and planters and new landscaping along with shopping, restaurants, and apartment living where a transit mall had been.

While construction of the museum isn’t expected to begin until early 2016, Wells Fargo historians and archivists already have visited the state to begin collecting artifacts and meet with historical societies and other groups. That work will continue over the next several months to determine what stories and displays to feature to tell the shared story of Wells Fargo and metropolitan Des Moines — home to the company’s home lending business.

Great Plains Lead Region President Don Pearson says Des Moines is an ideal museum location because the company’s 14,000 team members in the Des Moines area represent its third-largest workforce in any U.S. market. “Wells Fargo and its predecessor companies have a long and rich history in Des Moines and Iowa,” he says, “and we’re happy to announce that history is going to come to life even more next year in Iowa’s first Wells Fargo history museum.”

The Des Moines museum will include a full-size Wells Fargo stagecoach and feature the same blend of old-school and new-media displays seen in other locations.

“Around the country, our history museums bring the Wells Fargo brand to life for tens of thousands of visitors each month,” says Beverly Smith, head of Historical Services for Wells Fargo. “We’re proud to work with local team members and the Des Moines community over the next several months as we build this great resource for telling the Wells Fargo story.”