The enriching experience of the Detroit Institute of Arts

By Christian Todd Assistant News & Opinion Editor

The Detroit Institute of Arts, with its exhibitions, events and structure, shows to visitors unique works of art that provoke thought and it shows a great diversity of culture.


Spread across its multiple floors, the DIA contains thousands of art pieces and artifacts. On the first floor are artifacts that back to thousands of years are from Native American, African and Asian cultures. The important part of displaying these artifacts and art from different cultures is to inform those on ancient and foreign traditions that may appear alien to the observer.


In the African section, there are outfits and masks that dancers would wear to perform. There are screens that help illustrate what that is like. There are also signs on the walls that explain the meaning of each piece and its history. Another thing about these artworks is that they do not shy away from disturbing reality.

In a sarcophagus in the center of a room, a mummy is contained and many of the small statues contain nudity. The DIA does not censor any of the exhibits as that would take away from the importance of the cultures presented.

The Renaissance art is another important element of the museum. Scenes of holy events and wars are depicted with a sense of beauty and tranquility. Even when demons and other atrocious figures take form within the frame, they still do not fully delve into the grotesque like other eras of art tend to do.

The individuals in these paintings are usually painted with an emphasis on clarity as they are typically the stand out in the pieces. Like the artifacts of Africa, they are abe to inform the viewer on the time the painting was made. Life, whether from the point of view of royalty or the oppressed, shows in detail the power of medieval class systems.

Another important element to the museum is the modern art section. With this section being more recent, viewers may believe that the pieces presented would be easier to interpret, but these are meant to demolish the known ideas of art and diverged into a new movement. A large portion of these only contain a few colors and they may portray an event, but they can be hard to determine. Artists like Andy Warhol challenged the ideas of art, inspiring a minimalistic but engaging style.


Along with the exhibitions, the DIA also hosts events for visitors. One of the popular events are movie screenings. The museum will showcase classic and contemporary films. The Freep Film Festival, for example, covers films that are current and tackle important social issues.

One large event was held last summer titled “Star Wars and the Power of Costume” that details the costumes used in the films.


The building itself is an art piece. The exterior and hallways are detailed and appealing. Diego Rivera’s “Battle of Detroit” fills an entire large room and it shows the difference between workers and their bosses in a stressful environment, illustrating a bit of history for Detroit.