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Graham Beal to retire as director of DIA

Jan 8, 2015

Credit Joseph Gallegos / Flickr

  

Graham Beal will retire from his position as the director of the Detroit Institute of Arts at the end of July. 

His 16-year tenure saw the museum through the financial crash in 2008 and the city's bankruptcy. 

"We did indeed get tremendous support," Beal said, "but none of that would have happened had we not been a thriving institution that had positioned itself as being for the people."

Beal set out to make the artwork more accessible at the start of his time in Detroit. By updating labels and presentations of the art, he believes he's helped make artwork admirable and understandable to all, not just art historians. 

"What we've done here is our contribution to what is a global debate about how you demonstrate the ongoing worth of your museum, of why people should think you are important, and I think that's not something you do only in times of crisis," Beal said. 

He says his proudest accomplishment was the renovation and reinstallation of the collection, which led to a tri-county tax millage in 2012 to support the museum. This, he says, was one of the biggest signs that the community saw the museum as their own. And that support continued through the bankruptcy. 

In his last few months, Beal is especially excited about the opening of the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo exhibition, which opens in March.

"It happens to have been my idea to do this exhibition 10 years ago, and it's finally happening," he said.  

--Paige Pfleger, Michigan Radio Newsroom