Foundations pledge $330 million to spare Detroit art collection

BY Colleen Shalby  January 13, 2014 at 3:04 PM EDT

“Detroit Art City: The Detroit Institute of Arts Story,” a documentary by Detroit Public Television, tells of the story of the one of America’s most significant art collections and how it’s fate came to rest in a legal battle over the Motor City’s future. Watch the full film above.

The Detroit Institute of the Arts holds several thousand works of art valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. While the collection is a source of civic pride, these city-owned masterpieces are also at risk of being sold to help pay off the Motor City’s debts.

When a federal judge gave the go-ahead for Detroit to shed its estimated $17 debt on Dec. 3, Kevin Orr, the city’s emergency manager, told the Detroit Free Press that he would like to find a way to monetize the DIA as a possible point of revenue in the the city’s federal bankruptcy settlement.

However, hope for museum that houses works by Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse and Diego Rivera may be in sight. A group of philanthropic foundations have pledged more than $300 million toward a deal that would help preserve the renowned collection.

As part of the plan, the museum might be removed from city ownership and put under the control of the state, reports The New York Times. The funds would go towards Detroit’s employee pension funds and would help to relieve the DIA of its responsibility to help the city pay off its creditors.

In a statement issued by the United States District Court for Eastern Michigan, mediators called the foundations’ agreement “an extraordinary and unprecedented effort to help resolve two very challenging sets of issues — the underfunding of Detroit’s two pension systems and the preservation” of the DIA “and its iconic art collection.”

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Detroit Museum Struggles to Maintain Identity, Attract New Art Lovers

H/T Lauren Ehrler