Detroit Institute of Arts Devises Ways to Save Its Art

  • January 29, 2014 22:31

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Detroit Industry, north wall, Diego Rivera, 1932-33, fresco.
Detroit Institute of Arts

In a statement on Wednesday, the Detroit Institute of Arts said it would endeavor to raise $100 million in a multiyear fundraising effort to save its collections. The museum's commitment joins about $370 million already pledged by 10 foundations.

In addition, Michigan governor Rick Snyder asked the State Legislature to add $350 million to the fund to save the art and fund pensions. 

The fundraising is a tactic to save the DIA's art from being sold to satisfy the bankrupt city's creditors. Money raised is earmarked for Detroit's pension obligations, which could be underfunded by as much as $3.5 billion. The city's total debt load is around $18 billion.

Federal judge Gerald Rosen was the architect of the plan that would move the museum from city ownership to private foundation, thus protecting the art from municipal control. City-owned art in the DIA was estimated at $454 million to $867 million by Christie's when appointed by the city to provide an appraisal late last year.

The DIA has warned that any sale of art from its collections would sound the death knell for the museum, as donors would look elsewhere to contribute and a three-county tax fund would cease to provide money for operating expenses.

Museum officials said they have talked with corporate leaders in Detroit and will now "stretch its fund-raising abilities to their capacity" to keep its collections intact.



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