Detroit may finally be close to saving its city’s art collection, held by the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). The nation’s three major automakers, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, announced yesterday that they will donate a combined total of $26 million, reports the New York Times. Through Detroit’s “grand bargain,” a plan aimed to save the city’s pension funds and to keep DIA’s collection off the auction block, the donation will join funds to be raised by DIA, private donations and state funding. The plan also puts ownership of the museum under a private nonprofit organization, shielding the city’s 66,000-piece art collection from future municipal threats.
More funds still need to be raised; pensioners will need to vote; and a federal bankruptcy judge will have to sign off on the deal this summer. And many creditors are still calling a massive art sale, upset that the plan “favors retirees over banks.” But there is definitely a sense of optimism about the future of DIA and Detroit. “Let’s build on this,” Governor Rick Snyder said at yesterday’s announcement. “We’re accelerating.”
Since the city filed for bankruptcy almost a year ago and the possibility of selling its collection was first suggested, the art world has come forward in support of the museum. In August, many arts organizations participated in “A Day for Detroit,” posting their favorite works from the DIA collection. In September, the American Association of Museum Curators announced that it would move its annual conference from Houston to Detroit in support of DIA. But perhaps the most inspirational boost to the museum was in December when the Huffington Post unearthed a 1970s promotional campaign for DIA called “You Gotta Have Art!” (Yes, we posted this six months ago, but it’s well worth another viewing.)