American Gothic Barn – Mount Vernon, Iowa - Atlas Obscura

American Gothic Barn

Mount Vernon, Iowa

A hidden barn-sized rendition of Grant Wood's most famous, and most parodied, painting. 


Off the road on U.S. Route 30 in eastern Iowa, hidden by trees and completely unannounced, Iowa’s little-known American Gothic Barn is a fully painted barn coated in color that would make Grant Wood proud.

Wood’s famous painting “American Gothic” is one of the most parodied pieces of art in modern American history. But if you don’t have time to see the real thing at the Art Institute of Chicago, you can see the next best thing in Mt Vernon, Iowa, where a barn-sized rendition of the classic work is hiding on a private farm.

The large replica of Wood’s painting covers the barn’s entire facade. The barn’s sides are painted to depict a bison in a prairie and an image of the Iowan countryside that inspired Wood throughout his life.

The American Gothic Barn wasn’t actually painted by the farmer who owns the property but was created by Mark Benesh, a local middle school art teacher, who was commissioned by the barn’s owner to replicate Wood’s masterpiece. And for the few who pull over to enjoy the view and snap a few pictures of the barn, Benesh’s endeavor was well worth it.

Know Before You Go

On the south side of Highway 30, directly after the highway curves due east.

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