It’s been months now since Detroit filed for bankruptcy, provoking art world nervousness as many eyed the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), the second largest municipally-owned museum in the United States, and its world-class art collection as a means to reduce the city’s more than $18 billion debt.
Initially, the controversy received a lot of press: art websites declared August 14 “A Day for Detroit,” posting their favorite works from the DIA collection on their sites and, in September, the American Association of Museum Curators announced that it was moving this spring’s national conference from Houston to Detroit in a show of support for DIA. Christie’s auction house was called in to appraise the collection and released its assessment early this month. The appraisal, of course, was debated by many, as were several court rulings made this month (on the eligibility for bankruptcy, the expedition of appeals, the mediation process, etc.). As the city got bogged down in legal nitpicking, outside enthusiasm has waned.
But now, the Huffington Post has dug up a recently posted YouTube video from the 1970s that should reinvigorate DIA supporters—in fact, it should reenergize all museums! While the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s “A Place for All People” campaign has a bit of the 70s “Godspell”/”I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” vibe and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s “Always Fresh, Always Free!” slogan would fit right in to the 70s commercial for Charlie fragrance (in which supermodel Shelley Hack was “kinda free, kinda wow!”), neither campaign has anything on DIA’s inspirational (pre-flash mob era) promotion “You Gotta Have Art!”
also by Paula Newton
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