Amana Arts Guild Center

man painting outside the amana arts guild
A man painting the Amana Arts Guild, formerly a High Amana church, in High Amana, Iowa

Photo courtesy of Amana Convention and Visitors Bureau

Quick Facts

Once the High Amana church, this building now serves as the Amana Arts Guild featuring arts and crafts from all seven Amana Colonies. Except for their size, Inspirationist churches were largely indistinguishable from residences. Unlike homes, however, they were never built of wood. In contrast to the brick Community Church Museum in Homestead, the High Amana Church was built of sandstone.

The Amana Arts Guild serves to preserve the folk art of past generations and to pass these traditions onto future generations. It showcases historic Amana folk art in addition to the present work of local craftspeople. Many of Amana's traditional art forms are still practiced today - woodworking, willow basketry, needlework, quilting, blacksmithing, rug-making and weaving. While crafts are still permitted, paintings and frivolous wall decorations remain forbidden. For a picture to be hung on a wall, it must have a religious theme.


A popular craft among the Amana women was embroidery. Samplers and prayers were often embroidered using the German language. The art of creating lithograph prints was also practiced by Amana natives, especially by the Prestele family. Joseph Prestele, born in 1796, was an elder when the group came to America. He was commissioned by the United States government to produce prints of fruits and flowers for the government and the Smithsonian Institution. Joseph's sons, Henry and Gottlieb, also shared his talents and many of the family's prints are on display at The Museum of Amana History in main Amana.


Other significant Amana artists include Carl Flick and John Noé. Flick started painting and drawing in 1929 at age 26. He studied and painted with Grant Wood and his paintings were included in national traveling exhibits and in east coast galleries. In 1954, the year of Noé's death, President Eisenhower admired Noé's painting displayed at the Iowa State Fair's Amateur Art Show, and Noé gave him the painting. Artist Marvin Cone described Noé as a "meticulous and conscientious craftsman who makes the old Amana live."

Last updated: December 20, 2017