Detroit Institute of Arts

Trip Start Jul 07, 2012
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Flag of United States  , Michigan
Friday, July 13, 2012




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I went to the Detroit Institute of Arts today.  At over 650,000 square feet, the museum is quite large and has an encyclopedic art collection covering from ancient Egyptian to contemporary art.  At $5 to park and $8 to get in it's a relative bargain.

Their collection of American art is particularly good although there don't seem to be many pieces with a western U.S. theme.  The museum made many of their most important purchases in the early 20th century when the Detroit automakers were doing very well so they also are strong in Impressionist and post-Impressionist works.  Their Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait and The Window by Henri Matisse were the first works by these artists to enter U.S. public collections.  They've continued collecting and have an extensive Contemporary collection including a work by Clyfford Still, which is quite unusual since he sold so few pieces.

The van Gogh self-portrait looked familiar.  He seemed to like to paint himself.  I think I've even seen another one where he was wearing a straw hat.

A couple and their roughly 10-year-old son came into the gallery I was in.  The father had the son get up the platform holding a sculpture, which was clearly labeled as a place you weren't supposed to stand, and lean against the statue while he took a picture.  I wandered out of the gallery to see if there was a guard nearby that I could have keep an eye on them.  I didn't see anyone.  I wandered back into the gallery and the father was rubbing the canvas Chevy by Edwin Henry Landseer.  I instinctively said something like, "What are you doing?"  (Actually, I'm sure there were a couple other words in there but this is close enough.)  The guy stopped.  I wandered off, again, in search of a guard.  I found one and told her what I saw.  She didn't seem to care.  She told me to go find someone in the Modern section.  I did.  He hadn't heard from the woman I had told so, as I suspected, she hadn't cared enough to bother to tell the people in the Modern section.  He didn't seem to care either. I tried to walk him over to the painting to show him but he wouldn't go that far. I tried to get him to follow me to find the family but he couldn't be bothered. So if you like damaging expensive artwork then this is the museum for you. They don't seem to mind.

I wound up staying for nearly 11 hours until their 10:00pm closing time.  I don't think I've ever spent that long in a museum before. 
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