10 Reasons to Visit the DIA Today

Updated Apr 23, 2024

Museum Happenings
Kids holding hands and walking through the DIA's Rivera Court

Come see why USA Today readers voted us best art museum in the US two years in a row

In March 2024, the Detroit Institute of Arts was named Best Art Museum in the US by USA Today readers — for the second year in a row! If you’ve never been, here are 10 great reasons to add the DIA to your “must-see museums” list ASAP.

And if you live in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb counties, the DIA is always free to visit, and many of our programs and exhibitions are free as well!

1. Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry Murals

Diego Rivera’s iconic murals are one of the top reasons to come to the museum. Collectively known as the Detroit Industry Murals, the floor-to-ceiling frescoes were created by renowned Mexican artist Diego Rivera in 1932–33 to showcase Detroit's industrial history and serve as a powerful testament to the resilience and spirit of the city and its people.

2. The first Vincent van Gogh to be acquired by a US museum

In 1922, the DIA created a cultural milestone and set a precedent when it became the first US museum to acquire a work by the groundbreaking post-Impressionist Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh. Today Self-Portrait is one of the museum’s most beloved works, drawing visitors from around the world to admire the Dutch artist’s unique technique and vibrant colors.    

3. World-class exhibitions

Every year, the DIA hosts exhibitions that span various genres, time periods, and cultures. From ancient civilizations to contemporary art, there's always something new and exciting to explore at the museum. Whether you're interested in Renaissance masterpieces, modern sculpture, photography, or even film history, the DIA's rotating exhibitions are a dynamic and enriching experience for visitors of all ages.

4. Free programs

One of the most remarkable aspects of the DIA is its commitment to accessibility. The museum offers a wide range of free programs and events throughout the year, from educational workshops and artist talks to community festivals, film screenings, and hands-on art making for all ages. There's no shortage of opportunities to experience art and culture without breaking the bank.

5. African American art collection

Did you know the DIA was one of the first fine arts institutions to create a curatorial department dedicated entirely to African American art? Now, nearly 25 years later, the DIA is proud to be home to an exceptional collection that showcases an amazing and rich cultural heritage of African American art, including works by renowned artists such as Kehinde Wiley, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence and Detroit’s own Mario Moore.

6. Detroit Film Theatre

There is nothing like seeing a movie at the DIA's Detroit Film Theatre (DFT), now going into its fifth decade of presenting an incredible roster of films carefully selected by DIA curators and shown in a grand 1927 movie theater. Whether you're craving a timeless classic, a gripping documentary, some great animated shorts for the family or the latest indie gem, the DFT truly has something for everyone.

7. Live music

Looking to kick off the weekend with some fun, and free? The DIA offers world-class musical acts through our Friday Night Live! series. You might experience pulse-racing jazz, virtuoso classical performances, experimental performance or a rarely seen world music ensemble. Whether you're a casual listener or a music fanatic, you’ll find something to groove to at the DIA.

8. Architecture

Beyond its impressive art collection, the DIA itself is a work of art. Designed by renowned architect Paul Philippe Cret and completed in 1927, the museum's neoclassical façade and grand interior spaces provide a visually stunning backdrop for exploring the wonders within. Take a moment to admire the building's architectural details and elegance as you wander through its galleries and corridors.

9. Family-friendly

Looking for something new and fun for the family? Look no further than the DIA, where fun and free activities are on offer almost every day. In addition to the amazing art-filled galleries, there’s family-friendly storytelling, puppet shows, music and more. When the littles need a break, head to the DIA’s Art-making Studio for free workshops and play areas every weekend, then stop by the DIA Cafe or Kresge Court for kid-friendly snacks and meals. Start their love of culture young with a day at the DIA!

10. Broader horizons

At the DIA, visitors will experience artistic traditions from around the globe, whether that’s medieval European paintings to contemporary works by Indigenous artists, and more. By exploring the incredible breadth and expression of human creativity, visitors will truly understand that art knows no borders. Discover new perspectives, expand your horizons, and celebrate the beauty of cultural diversity at the DIA.