News / Arts & Entertainment

Detroit Art Institute at Center of Bankruptcy Debate

Detroit Art Institute at Center of Bankruptcy Debatei
X
July 26, 2013 10:17 AM
The Detroit Institute of Arts Museum, also known as the DIA, is home to valuable paintings, sculptures, and artifacts from around the world. But what is housed there belongs to the city of Detroit. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, with the city filing bankruptcy protection, many are concerned the collections could be sold to pay Detroit’s creditors.
Kane Farabaugh
The Detroit Institute of Arts Museum, also known as the DIA, is home to valuable paintings, sculptures, and artifacts from around the world.  But what is housed there belongs to the city of Detroit.  With the city filing bankruptcy protection, many are concerned the collections could be sold to pay Detroit’s creditors.
 
Inside its massive halls are more than 60,000 objects that make up one of the top collections of art in the United States.
 
Visitors to the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum can see up close the brush strokes of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Self Portrait” or William-Adolphe Bouguereau's “Nut Gatherers” which is so finely detailed it looks more like a photograph than a painting.
 
It was the large wall murals of Detroit’s auto industry, painted by Diego Rivera, that attracted Virginia-based airline pilot Terrence O’Toole.
 
“And I thought it was interesting to come in here and see the murals depicting the cultural diversity of the plant,” O'Toole explained.
 
If you look closely as you walk the halls of the DIA, there are placards that describe each artifact on display.
 
Underneath the title of many of the pieces are four important words - “City of Detroit Purchase.”
 
What sets the DIA apart from most major museums is that the city owns the DIA building and its collections.  
 
Even before Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr filed for bankruptcy protection, he inquired about the Institute’s inventory, setting the art world - and Detroit’s citizens - into a frenzy.
 
“It’s a slam against all the citizens of this city and a slam against the citizens of the whole area here," said bookseller John King, a lifelong Detroit resident who stayed in the city as its population dramatically declined.  He said the DIA is important to what is left of Detroit's spirit, and hopes creditors don’t force the sale of its assets to pay the city’s debt.
 
“It’s sad they’re even talking about going after that asset," King said. "I, mean they have other assets they could go after, and they shouldn’t really be touching the Detroit Institute of Arts.”
 
Finance professor Amiyatosh Purnanandan of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan says the total value of the DIA’s collection is far less than what Detroit owes its creditors.
 
“You’re looking at $18 billion of debt," Purnanandan said. "The Art museum will fetch you about $1 to $2 billion.  Even if you sell that, it’s not going to solve your problems.”
 
“To have to sell it piecemeal would be sad," commented visitor O’Toole, adding that selling the collection could also undermine the very thing Detroit needs at the moment.
 
“It brings visitors, it brings cash flow to this community, which this city is in desperate need of some cash flow,” he noted. 
 
The non-profit group ArtServe Michigan says the state earned $2 billion in tourism money in 2011, based mostly on cultural institutions, like the Detroit Institute of Arts.  Not only would selling the DIA’s collection hurt tourism income, experts say such a sale would mean a large amount of rare and important artwork would flood the market, potentially undermining the city’s ability to get the best price possible for its holdings.  
 

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Paquito D'Rivera, who has won 12 Grammys, is celebrated both for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer. D'Rivera's latest project, “Jazz Meets the Classics,” was released this month. He joins us on the latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."