A Michigan state Senate committee swiftly approved a bill that aims to protect the holdings of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), and other Michigan museums, from the possibility of deaccessiong to cover municipal debts, reports the Detroit Free Press.
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, introduced the bill Thursday. It was approved on a 5-0 vote on Tuesday by the General Operations Committee.
“I introduced the bill to protect the art institutes in Michigan,” he said. “A piece of art might have a certain value in terms of dollars, but like a family heirloom, the value goes beyond dollars.”
Based on the code of ethics of the American Alliance of Museums, which bars museums from selling artwork to satisfy debts, the bill included references to an 1885 act that stated that art collections are a public trust that must be protected.
The controversy began last month when Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr said the city's art collection may be subject to sale in order to repay municipal debts. Detroit's estimated debts are $15 billion to $17 billion.
The bill will move to the state's full Senate, possibly later this week.