Jul 8, 2022 - News

Hidden Des Moines: Photographer showcases the city's secret beauty

Photos of Des Moines

Photos captured from around Des Moines by Matthew von Schenkel aka "Mr. Hidden." Photos courtesy of von Schenkel

When Matthew von Schenkel moved to downtown Des Moines from Cedar Rapids last year, he was alone and needed something to occupy his time.

After getting inspired by similar concepts, he started "Hidden Des Moines" last August — an Instagram account that showcases the often overlooked beauty and secret crevices of the city.

As a new resident, it was just a fun project and a way for him to get acclimated to the city.

  • His mom, a former photojournalist and videographer, always advised him: "Show people things in a way that they may not have seen it before," von Schenkel said.

Yes, and: For the residents who have quickly started to follow him, viewing Des Moines through his lens has become a unique way to see the beauty again in places quickly passed by.

Buildings around Des Moines
Photos courtesy of van Schenkel

Zoom in: One spot that made it on to von Schenkel's Instagram was the abandoned Kaleidoscope Mall — a spot that's now home to more birds than people.

  • When he stumbled upon it, he thought it was eerie.
  • But it prompted a photo and some curiosity. He researched its history and even wrote a blog post about Hubbell Realty hoping it would attract a Gucci store back in the 80s when it was dreamed up as a high-end mall.

The bottom line: Iowans are the ones who like to make fun of Iowa the most. But von Schenkel wants to do the opposite.

  • "Some things about Iowa are cool. They can be glamorous or romantic or they can be exciting," he said. "There's so much more than what people assume comes with an insurance city."

Explore more Hidden Des Moines pictures or suggest places von Schenkel should visit here.


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