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DIA director talks about Detroit bankruptcy battle

Sep 15, 2014

Bank of the Oise at Auvers by Van Gogh, owned by the DIA
Credit user: Maia C / Flickr

 

As the Detroit bankruptcy trial moves into its third week, the spotlight has often been trained on the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The discussion over whether the DIA can and should be forced to sell its treasures to help offset Detroit's insolvency has been one of the most hotly debated issues of the bankruptcy.

DIA director Graham Beal recently wrote a letter that was published in the museum's newsletter and then posted on Deadline Detroit under the headline "Museums Should Step Very Carefully 'In Times Of Crisis.'"

Here's an excerpt of the letter:

In the Great Depression, the DIA remained open and staffed, largely thanks to the secret support of Edsel Ford. The city of Detroit arts commissioners could have sold the van Gogh self-portrait, Matisse's The Window, Ruisdael's Jewish Cemetery, or even Breugel's Wedding Dance, but the thought never seems to have crossed anyone's mind.

And if they had, not only would we not have them today, we would not have been given much of the art that came from private donors or the financial contributions that enabled so many purchases. Why give to a museum that, in times of crisis, converts your treasured donation into cash to make up for failed fundraising, bad management or poor fiduciary judgment?

Beal joined us on Stateside and reacted to Detroit creditor Syncora's settlement with the city. 

*Listen to our conversation with Graham Beal above.