Quick. Name the largest museum collections in the United States. It’s tough to think on your feet like that. You probably had the Smithsonian on your list. Maybe the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Chicago Art Institute or even the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But, you probably did not put the D.I.A. on your list.
The Detroit Institute of Arts has one of the largest collections in the United States, yet only has the opportunity to display about 20% at any one point in time in its sprawling 658,000 square feet. I know, Detroit! In fact, it is actually a world-renowned museum. Art lovers travel from all over the world to see many of the museum's key pieces. Who knew? There is the ever-popular Diego Rivera’s “Detroit Industry”, an amazing fresco cycle that is considered by many to be his best work. And, of course, many travel to see Van Gogh’s “Self Portrait”, the first Van Gogh to enter a United States museum's collection. Pieter Bruegel’s “The Wedding Dance”, Bouguereau’s “The Nut Gathers”, Fra Filippo ... the list goes on and on. Even Rodin’s famous statue, “The Thinker”, that sits outside on Woodward Avenue and greets each and every visitor is a famous piece.
It is sad that such an amazing museum stands tall and alone amidst a crumbling city. The museum itself is safe to visit and wholly worth-while, but the journey in is sad. Detroit, the once proud and bustling city of the auto barons who personally donated the art in the D.I.A., has fallen on extremely hard times. It is easy to forget that Detroit was once a cultural mecca and has an amazing art museum to boot.