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  • Meet The 2024-25 Explorer Series Speakers

Meet The 2024-25 Explorer Series Speakers

Meet the 2024-25 Explorer Speakers

National Geographic Live! at Des Moines Per­forming Arts is now the Explorer Series! The quality and passion behind this series remain unchanged. We are delighted to welcome another dynamic season of expert scientists, adventurers, and photographers to the Civic Center Stage.
Mireya Mayor

Dr. Mireya Mayor: Anthropologist

Pink Boots and a Machete - January 21, 2025

Why should you be interested in Dr. Mireya Mayor? 

Dr. Mireya Mayor is a world-renowned primatologist and explorer, award winning TV host, recognized science communicator, educator, and author. As a former NFL cheerleader and mother of six, Dr. Mayor followed her unlikely dreams and defied stereotypes, proving that you really can do it all.

Dr. Mayor explores the most remote regions of the earth in search of elusive, rare and little known animals. In short order she became a National Science Foundation Fellow, Fulbright Scholar, and an Emmy Award-nominated wildlife correspondent for the National Geographic Channel. Her explorations have led to several scientific discoveries, most notably her co-discovery in Madagascar of the worlds smallest primate, a brand new species to science. Her exploits have earned her the nickname “the female Indiana Jones” but unlike Harrison Ford’s character, she’s known to always pack a black dress - “should an unforeseen occasion arise.” 

Mireya Mayor

Michael Yamashita

Michael Yamashita: Photographer 

East Meets West: In the Footsteps of Marco Polo - March 11, 2025

Who is Michael Yamashita? 

Michael Yamashita is known as one of photography’s top influencers. He has shot for National Geographic for over 40 years and  accumulated over 1.7 million followers on Instagram. An Asian Studies major at Wesleyan University and fluent in Japanese, Yamashita combined his dual passions of travel and photography to become a Far East Expert.

His assignments have taken him to six continents, but his particular specialty has been in retracing the paths of famous travelers like Marco Polo and the Chinese explorer/admiral Zheng He. Yamashita has won a host of awards including those from the prestigious Pictures of the Year competition, Photo District News, the New York Art Directors Club, and the Asian American Journalists Association. He has produced two documentary feature films and 16 books on topics as diverse as Japanese Gardens to Shangri-la.

Michael Yamashita

David McLain

David McLain: Photographer and Filmmaker 

The Blue Zones: Unlocking the Secrets of Longevity - May 1, 2025

What inspires David McLain? 

David McLain “earned his chops” by shooting feature-length assignments around the world for National Geographic Magazine. His assignments took him to six continents, and he often spent up to 200 days on the road each year.

McLain specializes in exploring big questions across a range of subjects by telling intimate stories about real people. He has shot 7 feature stories for National Geographic Magazine, photographed the NYT best-selling cookbook Blue Zones Kitchen, shot for major brands like Sony and Apple, and DP’d the feature documentary Bounce, which premiered at SXSW. One of the best-selling National Geographic Magazines of all time includes a cover story shot by McLain on The Secrets of Understanding Longevity, written by Dan Buettner. This project inspired McLain to travel the world in search of the world's oldest, healthiest people and their secrets of longevity.

David McLain

Season tickets for the 2024-25 Explorer Series start at $50 and are on sale now!

Groups of 10+ can also reserve seats now with a 15% group discount.  

The Lauridsen Ticket Office Lobby at the Civic Center is closed for renovations through August 20th. 

How to Purchase Tickets: While the lobby is closed, you can still easily purchase your tickets or address any ticket-related needs by visiting our website at or by calling our ticket office at (515) 246-2300. Our friendly staff is ready to assist you with any inquiries or purchases over the phone.

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