Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, MI)


Man’s Shirt, circa 1860, from the Crow tribe, one of the articles in the Detroit Institute of Arts’s Native- American art collection. Photo courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts

Covering nearly 3,000 years of history, the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Native- American art collection includes pieces from North, Central, and South America. Spacing issues, however, have hampered the museum’s ability to show these sculptures, ceramics, and textiles in their entirety. Until now.

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is undergoing an extensive renovation and expansion program that will, among other improvements, add 35,000 square feet of gallery space. As part of the renovation, the museum has reconfigured its curatorial plan for each gallery to allow for flexibility in the ways in which objects are arranged, including thematically, culturally, or chronologically. DIA received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $75,000 in FY 2006 to support the reinstallation of its Native-American collection post-renovation.

The collection comprises early religious artifacts, ceremonial attire, and domestic objects such as a 19th-century Navajo blanket and an early 20th-century Western Apache basket. Approximately 300 objects from the collection will be reinstalled in a 4,000-square-foot first floor gallery. The project included final exhibition design and fabrication, development of interactive interpretive media, and consultations with scholars and technical experts.

Founded in 1885, DIA’s large collection includes muralist Diego Rivera’s seminal Detroit Industry fresco cycle and an 1887 Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait, the first Van Gogh acquired by a U.S. museum. The museum’s buildings feature more than 100 galleries, small and large lecture halls, an art reference library, and a state-of-the-art conservation lab. The museum, including all of its newly reinstalled collections, will reopen to the public on November 23, 2007.

(From the NEA 2006 Annual Report)