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40% Completion at Detroit Institute of Arts
View of the DIA’s new British galleries, showing 18th-century portraiture, furniture, and decorative arts © Eric Wheeler / DIA.

DETROIT, MI.- The DIA is entering the final phase of a $158.2-million, six-year project to reinstall its permanent-collection galleries and transform the public’s access to, and experience of, a museum collection that ranks among the finest in the nation. The project has encompassed this thorough rethinking of the museum’s collections, the complete renovation of the museum’s existing campus – the original 1927 Beaux-Arts museum, with its renowned Detroit Film Theatre Auditorium, and two Modernist wings, added in 1966 and 1971 – and the construction of an addition to the South Wing.

The centerpiece of the DIA project is the complete reinstallation of more than 5,000 objects from the museum’s collections. The reinstalled galleries will total 152,000 square feet of exhibition space, an increase of 30 percent that has been accomplished through the new addition to the South Wing, as well as new galleries created out of reconfigured space in the original buildings.

The driving principle behind the reinstallation is the primacy of the art objects themselves. Throughout the DIA’s reinstalled galleries, painting, sculpture, works on paper, and decorative arts and furniture will be presented in a series of multiple, simultaneous exhibitions, each drawn from the extraordinary scope and caliber of the DIA’s collection, to convey the history of art and the stories of world culture.

Progress to Date:

54 of the 140 reinstalled galleries are nearing completion, with the remaining installations to take place through early fall. These 54 galleries include:

Fashionable Living, with 18th-century French decorative arts installed according to the time of day they were used by their original owners.

Grand Tour of Italy, which tells the story of the Grand Tour through paintings made for and by travelers on that legendary circuit, as well as the furnishings they acquired along the way.

The Dutch Golden Age, showcasing the DIA’s exceptional Dutch collection; here the works of Rembrandt, van Ruisdael, Ter Borch and their contemporaries are installed around a half-dozen narrative threads that convey the themes of faith and industry central to 17th-century Dutch society and culture.

Detroit Film Theatre Auditorium Restoration:

The restoration of this legendary theatre is nearly complete, and will be finished in time for the opening of the theatre’s fall season. During the first half of the 20th century, such legendary figures as Amelia Earhart, Dizzy Gillespie and Grace Kelly came to the lavish Detroit Institute of Arts Auditorium to present their films and to perform. In 1972, the theater hosted its first season of the Detroit Film Theatre. Today, it is the best-attended, single-screen, specialized theater in the United States, and has continued its long tradition of films personally introduced by directors and actors. Now this historic 1927 structure, one of the first theaters in an American museum and a legacy of the Golden Age of movie palaces, is being meticulously restored as part of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ building-wide restoration and expansion project. Based on archival documentation, the project is focused on restoring the grandeur of the auditorium while upgrading its technical systems. The improvements will allow this extraordinary theater to support state-of-the-art live theater and musical performances as well as film exhibitions.

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