Sunday, March 11, 2012

New thing #21: DIA Detroit

I've been to museums all over the world, but somehow I've never made it to the one in my backyard. That's why I've wanted to make sure I got to the Detroit Institute of the Arts during this experiment. The DIA's collection is considered one of the top in the US, and is known for its quality, range, and depth. It's housed in a gorgeous building flanked by white marble wings, located in the cultural historic district north of downtown.

We had kicked off Daylight Savings that morning by having brunch with The Boy, so he joined us as we headed downtown. We were pleasantly surprised to find that it was a Ford Free Sunday, meaning that everyone got free admission to the DIA thanks to a sponsorship from the Ford Motor Company Fund.

"Sea Boots" 
by Andrew Wyeth
With more than 100 galleries, we knew we would not get to see everything in a single trip. We started in the Prints and Drawings gallery, where you could use magnifying glasses to appreciate the fine details in the "Once Upon a Time" storytelling exhibit. From there we paused for a moment to listen to some pretty good music from the Scavenger Quartet, then headed to the Photography gallery which featured an exhibition called "Detroit Revealed: Photographs 2000-2010", with over 50 photographs chronicling the decade. We made sure we didn't miss the "Detroit Industry" fresco cycle by muralist Diego Rivera (a 360-degree tribute to the city's manufacturing base and labor force of the 1930s) and the armor collection of William Randolph Hearst lining the main hall. It was fascinating to see weapons over 400 years old that still looked pristine. We spent quite a bit of time enjoying the abstracts in the contemporary art gallery - those are my favorites - and the works in the Modern Art gallery. I was glad to see some of Andrew Wyeth's work featured, so realistic you felt like you could pull on those boots.

The museum is clean and bright, with several interactive exhibits and plenty of staff on hand to answer questions.  We had a great afternoon there and I look forward to returning to see some more of the treasures.  We did make a quick trip through the gift shop on our way out, but managed to avoid the considerable allure of the seatbelt purses and handblown glass vases that caught my eye. And on our short walk back to the car we passed the Science Center and the Scarab Club. I haven't visited either of those yet, but they'll have to wait for another day of New Things.

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