Bittersweet at the Detroit Institute of Art

This weekend I was invited to a meet up at the Detroit Institute of Arts (you may remember it from this post) to view the Bittersweet: Coffee, Tea & Chocolate exhibit.

Can you think of anything more appealing?

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The exhibit is full of the most intricate and detailed tea and coffee pots and cups you’ve ever seen. Honestly, can you imagine having tea at a friends and she pull this out to pour you a strong cuppa?

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“From social revolutions that changed the way we drink our morning blends, to design revolutions that changed the objects that we drink from, step back in time to when gathering over a cup of your favorite hot beverage caused a stir that upended the world.

Bittersweet: Coffee, Tea & Chocolate is the first exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts to engage all five sense. In addition to seeing art, you can touch, hear, smell and even taste coffee- and tea-related beverages.”

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The worst part of the exhibit of realizing that it’s considered rude to drink spilled tea. Who knew?

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We were heard that this was a sensory exhibit, where you got to sample different coffee and tea but were a little disappointed when we made our way through the exhibit, looking at coffee pot after coffee pot and at the end were offered just 2 shots of coffee.

One an Aztec recipe and one a French – both had a number of spices in them which gave it a strong kick, sure to jumpstart your day.

 

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The exhibit was beautiful and while a little disappointing on the tasting end, it is worth a visit for this gem alone:

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No wonder she’s close mouth smiling (I use that term loosely).

While there, it’s a perfect excuse to wander around the museum.

It’s one of my favorite in the world. Every time I visit I notice something different and revisiting my favorites is like seeing an old friend.

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This is the first time I visited the courtyard since watching Frida and I may have geeked out a little.

No matter how you feel about Diego Rivera, there’s no denying how incredible his work is.

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Right now, there’s an incredible installation by New York street artist Caledonia Curry, known as Swoon.

It’s a 400 lb, 20 ft tall installation titled Thalassa located in the museum lobby.

It’s beautiful and haunting. You could stand there and stare at it for hours. The colors are vibrant and even when you look away, you find your gaze turning right back.

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I can’t think of a better way to spend a chilly Sunday than wandering around a museum.

A great way to remind yourself of all the beauty in the world.

And All That Jazz, New Orleans

Full of giddiness that only a perfectly cooked pizza and fizzing bellinis can bring, we headed back to Jackson Square where I was . . .

“In the lounge. Waiting to welcome them (everyone who walked by) graciously to our home!”

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Anyone get that reference? Yes? 10 points to Griffindor.

Tucked back along the side of Jackson Square is the 1850 House – an easy place to miss if you don’t know it’s there.

A state museum of a recreated Antebellum era, middle-class house, with no detail left unaccounted for. So much so, it looks like a family living there, up and left in the middle of  life one day.

First though, you tackle the steep winding staircases (thankfully, Philadelphia prepared me for this).

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Yes, I did play host for anyone who would listen to me.

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Until I saw the children’s dolls. Something straight out of your nightmares that only Amy Schumer could love. My hosting ambitions promptly died after that (along with part of my soul).

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The back porch was equally as terrifying. You walk around completely unsteady as it’s sloped downward for rainwater runoff. Just a tad (massively) unnerving.

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The house is well worth a visit (despite the dolls and porch).

We emerged back into the humid New Orleans air and strolled around Jackson Square looking at local artists’ work, watching street performers, listening to music and people watching – you’ll see everything from bachelorettes to families to people in pirate costumes stroll by you in the course of just a few minutes. I’ve never been anywhere with such a hodgepodge crowd as in New Orleans.

Before we go further, can we talk about the humidity. I’m pretty lucky that my hair is straight and has never been reactant to the weather. That is, until New Orleans.

The humidity there was so intense I would wake up with it flat and straight and within 20 minutes of going outside, it would poof out and flip to the point that any 60s woman would be insanely jealous.

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When the humidity and crowds became a little too much we headed over to the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone.

“The Carousel Bar, that’s an interesting name. I wonder where it came from”  – you

Well, lucky for you I have the answer. The bar is a carousel. A literal carousel that slowly revolves as you enjoy a signature drink and watch the streams of people walking past on their way to Bourbon Street.

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To get a seat at the bar, you pretty much have to auction off your unborn child. If you’re not willing to do that, there are plenty of squashy arm chairs and couches pulled up next to large windows.

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We ordered a round of Pimm’s and settled in, watching the world go by and the carousel turn.

Have you ever had Pimm’s? It’s the most bizarre drink I’ve ever had and we spent all afternoon trying to think of how to describe it so, if you have a good description please leave a comment and let me know!

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As the evening drew closer, we headed back to the hotel for a quick change and then out to dinner.

We made reservations at Galatoire’s, a fancy restaurant that’s been around since the start of the 20th century.

The kind of place that keeps sports jackets at the front in case men come to dine without one.

A word of advice, the website says business casual and, if to you, business casual means dressing up a nice pair of jeans – don’t. The looks and scorn we received from some of the older patrons was venomous.

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But there’s nothing a little wine can’t fix.

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Also, can we talk about how I look like someone straight out of a vampire book? Maybe I spent too much time at the cemetery. I don’t know.

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If you go, get the Panna Cotta. Don’t ask questions. Just do it.

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Full to bursting, we headed back out to Bourbon Street (with our fellow jean wearers) and headed over to the one place I was adamant about visiting on our trip: a jazz club.

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Irving Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, located in the Royal Sonesta is a place  I cannot recommend enough. Dim lighting, strong drinks and jazz that speaks to your soul. What more could you want out of an evening.

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We saw Quiana Lynell sing and I can’t find the words to describe how spectacular she is. I could have listened to her all night – she has this amazing ability to just completely fill you up with whatever song she is singing.

I have her CD in my car currently playing on repeat. Be sure to check her out on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/122893372

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The perfect end to an incredible day.

An evening spent listening to jazz in New Orleans. It doesn't get much better than this

A post shared by Caitlin (@wandererandwolf) on

I was nervous about New Orleans – I dreamed of visiting since I was young and was afraid it would not live up to the enormous expectations I had. Let me tell you, it did. It absolutely did.

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

As promised, I have one more Philadelphia museum to tell you about – the one I heard the most about before going and, arguably, one of the most visited attractions in the city.

Not for what you think though.

As you approach the museum, it slowly comes into view, completely dwarfed by a massive staircase.

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Look familiar?

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How about now?

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Didn’t I warn you yesterday that you’d be humming Gonna Fly Now all day?

The stairs are jam-packed full of people taking photos of themselves, (attempting) to sprint up and lounging around but few actually made it past the top step to what’s beyond it.

Let me tell you: that’s a huge mistake.

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Beyond one of the most iconic sites in pop culture, you’ll find the Philadelphia Museum of Art – one of the very best museums I have ever gone to and that’s not something I say lightly.

I loved it so much I actually contemplated not posting photos, so as not to spoil it and just writing a critic post that this museum is incredible and should be on your bucket list.

However, I couldn’t give up the chance to relive it so I’ll give you a quick peak.

Follow me:

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The building itself is a work of art.

Massive and incredibly detailed, you can’t just rush from room to room, looking for artist names you know. You have to take in the whole experience – a work of art, housing works of art.

I know, very Inceptiony but in the best way. Believe me.

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Of course, the museum does have the big names.

Monet

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My very favorite: Van Gogh
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Grimshaw
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It’s packed with jewels to turn you a shade of green that would make Elphaba jealous.
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Then show you incredible rooms that you can’t help but picture yourself hosting a party in, wearing said jewels.

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You can almost see the the distant landscapes surrounding you just outside your palace windows (what, don’t tell me you wouldn’t think the same thing).

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There’s pottery from around the world.

Not my favorite – I’m always disappointed when there are no singing muses on old jugs and pots.
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Sculptures.

How gorgeous is this “Fall of Icarus”?

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And this portrait of a Roman who look mysteriously like Gerard Butler. photo Portrait of an Ancient Roman_zpstuienmik.jpg

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Modern art for those creatively inclined. photo Philadelphia Museum of Art Modern Gallery_zpslnhgb7t4.jpg

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Even an entire ancient courtyard, complete with a trickling fountain.

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Did I mention that elevators?

They’re very Tardis looking. I’ll let you know now though, it’s not the Tardis. I checked.

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You could spend an entire day in the museum and not see everything.

You’ll emerge into the bright sunlight with the biggest, goofiest smile on your face but how can you help it when you’ve spent a day with the greats?

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If you go to Philadelphia, you have to stop by! You can find the museum at 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Promise me though that you’ll move beyond just the steps!

Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

I left you yesterday getting some fresh air in Philadelphia after a walk back through time through in the Academy of Natural Sciences.

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Philadelphia is full to bursting with fantastic museums. You will never be bored in the city because, no matter what your interests are, you can find a museum for you where you can waste away an entire day in happiness.

Even better, many of them are in the same general area, letting you museum hop between them all.

So, after pulling myself away out of the Jurassic and a hop-skip-and-a-jump later, I found myself at the Rodin Museum.

Rodin was an artist who’s name I was familiar with but wouldn’t be able to pick out his art from anything so I figured this was a perfect opportunity to see what the hype was all about.

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The museum has a very European feel.

You first pass a massive sentry who determines whether you’re worthy to enter, through an entryway into a large courtyard and then up into the museum.

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As you walk up the stairway to the doors, you’re met with one of Rodin’s most famous works: The Gates of Hell.

The Gates took him 37 years to create (can you imagine working on something for 37 years?).

They were originally inspired by Dante’s The Divine Comedy but as he continued to work on it, it stopped becoming a representation of that and became a depiction of universal human emotions.

The narrative is of a chaotic world filled with over 200 people suffering from pain and despair.

The original doors were a plaster model but were cast in bronze for the museum in the 1920’s.

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The museum is on the smaller side. There is a main room with a few smaller rooms branching off in the corners but it’s not sparse by any means.

There are around 140 sculptures in bronze, marble and plaster. The first I saw was of Victor Hugo who just happens to be one of my very favorite authors.

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I think what makes Rodin so amazing is his ability to capture and freeze emotions – something I think many artists attempt but few succeed.

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After seeing every inch of the museum, I exited into the bright sunshine once again, took a stroll around the courtyard and headed off for one last museum.

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What do you think of Rodin? I think with artists people either love them or hate them. I loved Rodin but I definitely think his work is some you need to see in person. What do you think?

A Day of Dinosaurs, Philadelphia

After the biggest and best breakfast I’ve had in ages, I bid goodbye to my new friends at the Bond House and set out for a little culture.

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By culture, I want to be clear. I mean dinosaurs. I went to the museum purely for the dinosaurs.

I’m getting ahead of myself though. Let’s start at the beginning.

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The Academy of Natural Sciences was founded in 1812 and is the leading natural history museum for research, engagement and education for biodiversity and environmental science.

A very jargony way of saying, the museum is full of interesting animals and wildlife from around the world. Each exhibit is designed to engage visitors (it’s the last thing from dull), there are live animal shows and, my favorite, dinosaurs!

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I heard about the dinosaur exhibit and decided to stop by. Little did I expect to be completely sucked into the culture of the place.

Wandering from exhibit to exhibit, I looked down at my watch and realized I had been there for over an hour and still hadn’t seen the dinosaurs yet!

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After a quick walk through the butterfly house (am I the only one who doesn’t love butterfly houses? They’re hot, sticky, I’m always afraid I’ll step on one then be arrested by the butterfly police and I never manage to not flinch when they fly by me), it was finally time.

Dino time.

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My best friend growing up positively loved dinosaurs. We watched Jurassic Park more times than I can count. Played dinosaur pretend. Had dinosaur video game showdowns.

As we got older and grew apart, I couldn’t quite shake the Ross  Geller-like interest that seemed to be stuck with me.

You can then understand how excited I then was for this interactive exhibit. There were fossils, facts and animatronic dinosaurs that were motion sensitive. You’d walk by and they would start moving and roaring at you.

It. Was. Awesome.

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You exit by working up the courage to walk past this fantastic beast who pops out of the trees a-la Jurassic Park and leave the roars and the scares behind to travel back to the land of the living.

Well, kind of.

You know what I mean!

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The interactive dinosaur exhibit was a special attractions for the moment. They do, however, have a permanent dinosaur room.

Two dinosaur exhibits in one museum. Yes. This is Heaven.

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After a friendly pat on the leg (okay, that didn’t happen. It’s off limits to touch the exhibits . . . and I couldn’t reach) I left with a giddy smile and a head full of facts into the bright sunshine and a pretty great view.

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There are so many great details to Philadelphia. It’s a complete walking city and if you’re really letting yourself down if you don’t take advantage of that.

The Academy of Natural Sciences is in the perfect location for you to take a nice long walk in the sun after hours inside or for you to walk a little further and continue on your museum education.

Which is exactly what I did.

More tomorrow.

Plane, Trains and Automobiles

One of my favorite books of all time is Peter Pan. I think there’s something so magnificently brilliant about the idea of a person who never grows up.

Since I, unfortunately, don’t live in Neverland I’ve accepted the fact that I will have to grow up. However, there’s nothing that says I have to 100% be a grown up and hopefully that day will never happen.

I can tell you this at least, that day is not today (and most likely not tomorrow . . . or the next day).

One of my favorite places to go as a kid was the Henry Ford Museum and as I get older, I’ve never gotten tired of it. Every time I visit, I feel like a kid again and have the same reactions to all the exhibits as I did the fist time I visited.

Despite what you might think, I’m not a car girl. I’m the person who picks out what cars she likes because they’re pretty and go fast.

This museum is so much more than that though! It’s dedicated to history and as you walk through each exhibit you can see how the world has changed over the years.

Come on, let me show you.

When you enter, the first thing you see is the Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile. Go ahead, snicker. I did. Isn’t that the most glorious and weird thing you’ve ever seen?

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You’ll then enter an exhibit showing you antique furniture and how homes were arranged through the ages.

Henry Ford Museum, MI

Henry Ford Museum, MI

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Henry Ford Museum, MI

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Followed by machine equipment and the impact electricity had on businesses and lifestyles.

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I used to dream of the day I came and everything didn’t seem so big. As you can see, that day never came. Fingers crossed though, I still think that growth spurt I was promised as a kid is still coming!

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Henry Ford Museum, MI

My favorite thing about the Henry Ford as a kid was that it wasn’t boring. Instead of just signs posted everywhere with dry facts on them, there are stories, cartoons, diagrams and models that keep kids engaged and interested.

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Adults too, for that matter.

There was a special cars throughout the years exhibit when I visited.

Henry Ford Museum, MI

Did I dance around this singing Greased Lightning? You better believe it!

Greased Lightnin'

Pretty Cars

One of the biggest attractions is the car JFK was assassinated in. It’s amazing to be able to be that close to an object that had such a big impact on history.

Kennedy Car

Kennedy Car - Mom

Kennedy Car Sign

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Now, I always save my favorite exhibits for last.

An old fashioned McDonalds sign and trailer diner.

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Henry Ford Museum, MI

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An exhibit on feminism – this is the first place I ever heard about women’s rights, Alice Paul, Susan B. Anthony and that my rights, something I take for granted, was not always extended to women.

The exhibit is amazing and so well done.

Alice Paul Wall

Alice Paul

Never be equality

Finally, the trains.

Just look at this beauty!

Train

I had always wanted to go on a train (preferably a red one . . . in England . . .okay, the Hogwarts Express) and I loved being so close to them. Plus, it’s crazy seeing these monstrosities inside a building.

Atlantic & Gulf

Henry Ford Museum, MI

Walk Between Two Trains

When you finish making your way through the museum, don’t leave just yet.

Take a tour of the building itself – it’s unbelievably gorgeous.

Oh, and grab some lunch. We both know you want to.

Michigan Cafe

Henry Ford Waiting Area

Henry Ford Chandelier

Henry Ford Detailed Ceiling

Henry Ford Hallway

Henry Ford Atrium

It doesn’t matter if you’re 5 or 105, the Henry Ford Museum is for everyone and is the perfect cure if you’re feeling like too much of an adult.

Peter Pan would must assuredly agree.

Detroit Institute of Arts

For as long as I can remember one of my favorite places in Detroit has been the Detroit Institute of Arts. It’s one of the easiest places to lose your sense of time and all your worries in.

Every inch of it is full of art, history and culture that when you finally walk out the doors, you feel so much more filled with life than when you entered. There are over 100 galleries full of every kind of art imaginable making it one of the top six collections in the country.

So, after introducing Dom to the best ice cream in Michigan, I decided to whisk her downtown to one of the best places in Michigan (and I thought I’d bring you along).

Detroit Institute of Art

DIA Entrance Statue

When you walk through the main doors of the museum you will be completely tempted to walk straight ahead. There will be people milling about oohing and aahing, pointing and snapping away on their iPhones but resist the temptation!

You, my friend, are a pro and know to leave the very best things for last. Instead head to the gallery on the left.

DIA Exhibit

DIA Gossip Statue

The galleries are full of every type of art imaginable.

The classics that raise the hair on the back of your neck when you see them in person.

DIA Van Gogh

Couch and Painting DIA

Beautiful African art that you could stare, mesmerized at for hours

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Modern art that, if you’re anything like me, you don’t understand in the slightest but will still attempt to figure it out.

DIA Modern Art Sculpture

Bones Sculpture DIA

No matter how long I looked at it, this still just looked like a shipwreck to me (very In The Heart of the Sea).

DIA Modern Art Sculpture

Cat Painting

DIA Hip Woman Statue

DIA Exhibit

Notre Dame Painting - DIA

DIA Window Seat

My favorite are pieces that depict  Greek and Roman mythology.

I will admit, every time I visit I am very disappointed when the figures don’t start moving and singing “Honey, you mean HUNK-ules”.

DIA Greek Pottery

Athena Statue DIA

DIA Goddess Statue

DIA Greek Pots

Poseidon Statue DIA

Woman Painting DIA

Renaissance Painting - DIA

DIA Woman Statue

Once you’ve seen all the galleries, you can now visit the entrance hall.

DIA Entrance

Suits of Armor DIA

Just look at that ceiling. See, aren’t you glad you waited?
DIA Entrance Chandelier

DIA Ceiling

This hall then leads into the Rivera Court, the best part of the museum.

DIA Entrance Rivera Mural

The mural was created by muralist Diego Rivera in the 1930s. It took eleven months to create and is a tribute to the labor force and manufacturing base of the city.

If you happen across a DIA member, I would highly recommend asking him or her about the mural. They’re always more than happy to chat with you and give you all the details surrounding the history and meaning behind every panel.

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Detroit Institute of Art

With Detroit’s bankruptcy crisis, one of the proposed solutions was to start auctioning off art work from the museum.

In 2014, the bankruptcy plan that was approved put an end to the threat thanks to over $800 million of donations from private downers, the state of Michigan and foundations.

I can’t imagine downtown without the museum and will forever be thankful to those who stepped in to save it. As Detroit continues to rebuild itself, I’m glad to know the DIA will still be there to remind me of how big the world really is.

Whether you’re an artist, history buff or just want an escape from a cold day, give the DIA a visit.