being closed for the entire summer, The New Detroit
Institute of Arts will open its doors on Nov. 23. The
museum will remain open for 32 hours in a row until
Nov. 24 at 6 p.m. offering FREE admission to everyone.
Renovations were made to the building over the last
six and a half years and will all be shown off on the
day after Thanksgiving.
An Arts Alive!
fundraising gala took place on Saturday, Nov. 10 and
it drew over 2,000 people. Attendees who paid anywhere
from $200 to $600 for the event were the first to see
the recent transformations at The New DIA. International,
national and local entertainment was also provided.
The media got its first look at The New DIA on Monday,
Nov. 12. DIA Director Graham W.J. Beal spoke to the
media at a press conference and tours were provided
following his remarks.
gala sold out two weeks before the event," said
Pamela Marcil, public relations manager at the DIA.
"It's everybody's museum. This is a good time to
is invited to see The New DIA for the first time next
Friday. The art museum will be open for 32 consecutive
hours with FREE admission for all. There will be LIVE
jazz music in the American galleries, griots and dancers
in the African galleries and a basket weaver in the
Native American galleries.
is a day that we have been waiting for a long time and
we are ready to celebrate," said Beal. "I
invite the public to come and experience a beautiful
new DIA with galleries designed to better engage them
with one of the nation's finest art collections."
project kicked off in 2001. Six and half years and $158
million later, the DIA offers more gallery space, more
visitor amenities, an improved traffic pattern and a
new granite facade on the North and South wings of the
building. Improvements were also made to the electrical,
temperature and humidity systems. After the renovations
were completed, an extra 58,000 square feet of exhibit
space was added. The South Wing accounts for 31,383
square feet of that total.
renovation process, all the galleries have to be emptied.
When construction was completed, the team at the DIA
had the chance to think about how they wanted to reinstall
the art collection. Instead of the just putting it back
how it was, the team at the DIA arranged the art according
to the stories the objects have to tell. Galleries have
themes such as spirituality, travel and the cycles of
life. In the past, art collections were organized based
on their time period or style.
decided that we needed to get back to the original human
purpose of the works of art," the DIA director
said. "As you go through the galleries now, you
will see that the works of art are presented through
themes that relate these works of art to shared human
experiences. Very basic things like getting dressed,
drinking, eating, worshipping."
we're breaking with decades of practice, in a way where
Valentiner implicity contextualized things, we now are
explicitly contextualizing things. In what we are doing
here, we are both leading and we're ahead of the pack."
examples of the new way the DIA organized its art collections:
and the Cycle of Life:
objects from African cultures are displayed to show
the milestones of life: birth, adolescence, marriage
Tour of Italy:
Paintings and sculptures from Venice, Florence, Naples
and Rome are similar to those a "grand tourist"
would have seen and purchased.
of Spiritual Power:
Native American objects are carved with faces and
forms of humans and animals to evoke the power of
Dutch Golden Age:
The works of Rembrandt and his contemporaries
are displayed around six stories that convey the themes
of faith and industry central to the 17th century
Dutch society and culture.
The New DIA
includes many new uses of modern-day technology. Instead
of just displaying art, you will be able to experience
it at the DIA. Check out the "virtual" dining
experience in 18th century Europe or dance with a life-size
video of an African ceremony. Digital books were added
to the museum. You are invited to touch the screen to
turn the page and read them at your own pace. In addition,
visitors can use a handheld computer to take a multimedia
tour of Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry murals.
want to miss the "Art of Dining" 18th century
European banquet experience. It is a 5-minute program
that shows how European aristocrats would set their
table during a meal. The experience was designed by
Pentagram, a New York design firm.
idea is to have people come in with their experiences,"
said DIA Associate Educator Swarupa Anila. "We
want people to come in and decide for themselves. We
have the interpretation right in the gallery. In the
DIA, we tried to incorporate it with the works of art.
It took months to develop."
not the only changes to the DIA. New labels were added
to all the exhibits within the DIA. In the past, some
labels were confusing to visitors of the museum. All
the labels next to the art pieces were re-done in plain
English. A new Cafe DIA was added with seating for 250
people. More seating is available in the galleries throughout
the museum. A larger museum shop is available to visitors
of the museum, nearly double the size of the old one.
A new visitor information desk was added just outside
the museum shop.
labels are much more direct," Marcil said. "Check
out the digital books and greatly expanded museum shop."
At some museums,
they tell you not to touch the items in the exhibit.
In the Dutch and African collections at the DIA, kids
are encouraged to touch. They may touch ivory and glass
beads in the African gallery. They can also touch the
Velcro board and create their town still-life compositions
in the Dutch gallery. In 50 different galleries at the
DIA, children will find "Eye Spy" panels that
will give a clue about a work of art in that gallery.
They are encouraged to find the piece of artwork that
matches the clue and life the cover to see the correct
Institute of Arts' auditorium, also known as The Detroit
Film Theatre, was also renovated. The theatre, which
opened in 1927, got a fresh coat of paint, more seats
and updated sound and lighting systems. All 1,117 original
seats were refurbished. The original wood backs and
armrests were restored.
Street lobby has been remodeled from the ground up.
Informational signs will let visitors know what's going
on for that particular day. The box office is also located
in that lobby. Additional ticket windows are outside
for people who want to walk-up and get their tickets.
The DIA launched
its "Great Art New Start" campaign in Sept.
2006 with a goal of raising $180 million. Up to this
point, an astounding $100 million was raised. The funds
were used to complete the renovation, expansion and
reinstallation of the collection. Donations were made
by individuals, corporations and foundations across
The New DIA
Opens on November 23. You won't want to miss it. The
changes this museum has made are amazing. Bring your
friends and family to experience one of the best art
museums in the nation. The collections are organized
in a brand-new way that you won't find in any other
museum. The new technology has made the DIA more modern
Institute of Arts is located at 5200 Woodward Ave. in
Detroit, MI. For more information, call (313) 833-7900
or visit www.dia.org.
The DIA is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m.
until 5 p.m. It's also open on Fridays from 10 a.m.
until 10 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. until
6 p.m. Suggested admission is $8 for adults; $6 for
seniors; $5 for kids aged 6-17; FREE for children under
five and members of the museum.