BY CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Staff Columnist
When you have a redevelopment of many buildings in the city of Detroit, it’s nice to see that there are two still standing and also functional. Both of these buildings have a purpose and because people still use them, means that Detroit is far from dead, or ever being dead. I am speaking about the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Public Library. Even though the Library system in the city is having some problems financially, the main library in the Midtown Cultural Center area near the Wayne State University Campus is alive and well. In fact, the DIA had an upgrade in 2007, right before the recession started which also means that people still have money to spend to check out art or spend their free time, reading a book, and checking out all the collections each building has.
The Detroit Institute of Arts is located at 5200 Woodward Ave. in the Midtown Cultural Center of Detroit. It’s located near the Wayne State University Campus and accessible to anyone from members (free) to adults with an audio tour ($10). It’s very cheap and a great place to check out. First off, the DIA was established in 1885, and the current building was built-in 1927 by Paul Philippe Cret. It’s a Beaux Arts, Italian Renaissance style building, shaped like a giant E. It is the second largest municipally owned museum in the United States and has an art collection valued at more than one billion dollars. The first painting was donated in 1883 and has a collection of over 65,000 works. It covers 658,000 sq ft., with the expansion in 2007 that added 58,000 sq ft.
Over 100 galleries of art are displayed in the museum with over 600,000 visitors since the renovations were completed in November of 2007. Instead of having displays based on artist, they are now arranged based on galleries of different origins and ethnicities. For example there used to be a Vincent Van Gogh gallery, but his art is now displayed in the Modern Art Gallery. Other galleries include the Islamic, Native American, African-American and Egyptian.
One of the most famous works in the museum is actually frescoes painted on its walls. The curator of the time commissioned artist Diego Rivera to paint a mural on two of the walls depicting the auto industry of Detroit. He ended up painting all available space in the courtyard, which was covered after the murals were done.
One final note on the building is that it is so well designed and set up, that other museums in the country and around the world are coming to Detroit to see the example set for by the DIA. For more information on the DIA, go to http://www.dia.org.
The Detroit Public Library is located directly across the street from the DIA at 5201 Woodward Ave. in the Midtown Cultural Center Area of Detroit, once again a couple blocks away from Wayne State University. It’s the second largest library system in Michigan, only to the University of Michigan with one main library and 23 other branches around the city. The main building was built-in 1921 by architect Cass Gilbert in Italian Renaissance style and opened that same year. Gilbert also designed the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington D.C. and the Minnesota State Capital.
The library system serves over 918,000 people and has a collection of over 7.5 million articles of knowledge in the system. The collection includes books, magazines, records, CDs, videos, DVDs, and other electronic materials. A couple notable collections include the Ernie Harwell Online Exhibit and the Burton Historical Collection. You can find all the information to the main library and other branches at http://www.detroit.lib.mi.us
As the city of Detroit makes its way back through redevelopment, check out the museum district around the Wayne State University area as it can provide some great information, help you with projects in class and of course helps the city of Detroit as it rises once again. As we head back downtown for next week’s article, the area of Greektown will be discussed with how it came to be and how it’s important for the success of the city.
Check out my article on The Michigan Journal