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One of the most revered art museums in the nation, the Detroit Institute of Arts dates back to the early 19th century and has been housed in this facility designed by architect Paul Phillippe Cret since 1927. The museum includes over a hundred galleries and is the fifth largest art museum in the country. The museum also includes a 1,150 seat auditorium, a 380 seat lecture and recital hall, an art history library, and an art conservation services laboratory. The museum is a contributing property to Cultural Center Historic District which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


  • The Detroit Institute of Arts was founded in 1888 and moved to this location in 1927.
  • Inside of Detroit Institute of Arts
  • Mural of "Detroit Industry" in Detroit Institute of Arts

The first art museum in the region, the Detroit Institute of Arts, dates back to September 1, 1888 in a small building on Jefferson Avenue. Today, the museum has over 65,000 pieces of art from all over the world, including local favorites such as the Works Progress Administration murals of Diego Rivera. Funding for this large museum comes from private donations, the state legislature, and a ten-year bond approved by voters that will fund the museum through 2022. 

As the city of Detroit headed towards bankruptcy, it was feared that the assets of the museum might be liquidated and priceless works of art would be placed on the auction block. As part of the 2014 "Grand Bargain," charitable foundations throughout the city and country provided a source of funding while city workers and retirees accepted lower pensions. The terms of the deal allowed the museum to become a private organization and prohibited that organization from selling artwork while also making those works of art safe from seizure by the city's creditors because they were no longer owned by the city of Detroit.  

Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Historical Society. Accessed 9/1217 https://detroithistorical.org/learn/encyclopedia-of-detroit/detroit-institute-arts