How much is Detroit’s art worth?

The city of Detroit is bankrupt. The Detroit Institute of Arts has a collection worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The art at the DIA belongs to the city and has long made Detroit a destination — people visit the city to see the art. Should the city be allowed to sell this collection?

Read what Christie’s has to say about what this collection might get if sold.

A link to the DIA’s website.

And a quick link that takes you to museum’s permanent collection.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Wedding Dance, ca. 1566, is in their collection. Go to this link, roll over the image, and look at the detail!


6 thoughts on “How much is Detroit’s art worth?

  1. Madison Neisser

    I think every city should have the opportunity to sell art. It is upsetting that although it is bankrupt, it could also lose one of it’s greatest attractions. Looking at the big picture, leaving the art collection there could benefit the city by bringing in a little more revenue, I am not sure if they already charge money to see the art or not, but that may be an option. Like they said if the collection remains jeopardized then there is nothing they can do about it and selling it is the best option. Interesting article!

  2. Sarah Wilson

    I feel that this city should still be able to have this art collection even if they have lost all their money. They may even be able to earn back some of the money they lost of they started charging the people who view their art collection to pay money. I think that they should be allowed to sell the collection if that is what they feel would be the best thing for their city.

  3. Victoria Jenkins

    This is an extremely hard decision to make, and if I remember correctly this has been a topic of discussion for a while now amongst the people of Detroit and admirers of art in general.
    It’s not a simple yes or no question, on the contrary, there are a few pros and cons for each of the options. Detroit is in debt, they’re rebuilding where they can’t afford, or they’re letting buildings decay. As I learned in my AP Human Geography class, Detroit was once a symbol of the American dream when it was in full-bloom. Before, Detroit successfully supported a large population, but now the city is a symbol of urban decay. Thus, any legal-means to rake in money might really benefit the city and potentially help it revert back to its former-glory.
    However, the process of selling the art would actually cause an ironic outcome. By trying to generate revenue they would be detracting from a source of income already set in place. If there’s not enough art to really attract visitors then they might be stuck in the same spot they are now…
    So honestly, I don’t have an answer… I’m too indecisive. 🙁

  4. Jacie Housman

    Personally I think they should be able to sell the pieces the city bought themselves. I don’t think they should sell pieces that were donated. It is a difficult thing to do, but they have to take care of their city. Sometimes you have to make the hard choices and it’s a shame that the art has to be what goes, but it would probably be the most non-essential thing that would draw that kind of revenue.

  5. Celina Neal

    Although these pieces could bring in so much revenue for the city, I think preserving the artistic history is more important than the money. I believe that although Detroit could be reborn to be what it once was, I am a believer in everything happening for a reason. Maybe the city has had it’s glory time, and now needs to find another way to exist or not. I also believe that art and art history is very important to preserve and take care of in its integrity. Art is one thing that can remain almost forever, where as wealth and economic prosperity can not. I think that is something to be considered. These pieces are beautiful, and should be able to remain in their equally beautiful home no matter the economic state.

  6. Aria Janello

    This is such a tough issue because, yes while selling the art would get immediate money, it eliminates any future income of what they would make from tourists/residents coming to museums. I believe that any art pieces that have been bought by the museum should be allowed to be sold but any that have been donated to the city/museum should stay or permission has to be gotten from the donator. When art is donated to a museum, it is because of a connection to that place for some reason or another. The city of Detroit has many issues outside of being bankrupt as well that newly available money would go a long way. I believe the city should continue to look into it.


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