Rick Snyder as a clown (via Daily Kos)

Rick Snyder as a clown (via Daily Kos)

Earlier this week there was a brief spark of hope that the Michigan Legislature would swiftly pass a bill to try and prevent a potential sale of the Detroit Institue of Arts’ (DIA) collection. That spark has been put out, at least for now, by both the State House of Representatives and Governor Rick Snyder.

Although the state Senate has moved quickly on the bill sponsored by Republican Senator Randy Richardville, the House of Representatives is insisting on going on summer break first. A spokesman said the House wouldn’t consider the bill until the fall, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Even worse, though, is the article’s statement from Governor Rick Snyder, also a Republican, about the situation regarding the city and its beloved museum:

“My goal is not to see the art of the DIA disappear,” Snyder said. “But it’s also important to recognize that as fiduciary of the city, that the art is an asset of the city. We want to try and do the best we can to maintain it in a proper way.”

That is, to put it mildly, not reassuring, although it’s also not surprising coming from the man who signed an emergency-manager law into being after it was struck down in a state referendum and then said, “This legislation demonstrates that we clearly heard, recognized and respected the will of the voters.” Ha! Hahaha!

I contacted DIA for a response to Snyder’s comment, but spokeswoman Pamela Marcil said the museum had been overwhelmed with requests. “At this point, we feel we’ve said everything we can say, and are deferring from doing interviews unless there is new information to talk about.”

And for those who want to be further enraged on this rainy Friday, look no further than Virginia Postrel’s condescending Bloomberg column titled “Detroit’s Van Gogh Would Be Better Off in L.A.,” which I won’t even condescend to critique.

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art and politics but has also been known to write at length about cats. She won the 2014 Best...

4 replies on “Michigan Gov Calls Detroit Museum’s Collection an “Asset””

  1. Just to play a little devils advocate, if the city is dissolving and it’s people are migrating elsewhere why shouldn’t the art follow them to new grounds?

    I don’t like viewing art as an asset, it’s a little upsetting. But culture is different, culture should stay with the people that can tend to it best, where the people go the art will follow.

    1. Because the city isn’t dissolving, it’s growing in the Cultural Center where the DIA is located. A new light rail train system is going in along Woodward starting this fall, hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on development in Midtown and Downtown Detroit. Dan Gilbert clearly does not think the city is dissolving.

      Try visiting Detroit before deducing its status from afar, you may be surprised by what you find. It’s full of people capable of tending to culture, and its culture is thriving, bringing visitors from across the world on a daily basis. Memorial Day weekend’s Movement festival, formerly known as the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, has been bringing throngs of people to the city from all over Europe for over a decade now. It’s an electronic music lover’s mecca. Should it also be relocated to LA? Should the Motown museum? What about the Heidelberg Project?

      Is culture dependent on population? Take a look at Marfa, TX.

      1. My response exactly. People assume that because Detroit is going into bankruptcy that everything sucks and is terrible and so who gives a shit about the museum? But there are still people in Detroit, many of them creative. On top of which, this idea that the art should be moved because LA can better tend to it or whatever is BS. The DIA is doing an excellent job of caring for its art, and the people fo Detroit deserve a world-class museum filled with inspiring art as much as anyone anywhere else. In fact I might even argue they deserve it MORE, since cities like LA have plenty of other museums and more access to culture and Detroit has less.

  2. Scary. Those Van Goghs and the Caravaggio, in particular, must look like juicy, ripe plums for the picking to people who don’t care about art. Very disturbing.

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