Notice

For visitors to Van Gogh in America, operation hours are extended until 5 p.m. Tues-Thurs and 6 p.m. Sat-Sun.

Director’s Letter, December 2015

Updated Jul 20, 2022

From the Director

At a recent meeting, one of my colleagues explained the power of Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry murals and the sense of identity that emanates from them. I could see that this DIA staffer, a Detroiter, felt cultural pride, respect for beauty, and a sincere historical connection with this monumental fresco. I am from Spain, born and raised in Madrid, and while I, too, admire Rivera's murals, when I walk through the galleries I can't stop myself from winking in solidarity at some of the Spanish masters on view. I pay regular visits to Joan Miró's Self-Portrait II (https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/self-portrait-ii/twE...(opens in new window)), and I feel the magic of the Spanish Mediterranean. I can easily connect with this painting, which speaks to me with a clear voice.

Our goal for the DIA collection is that it should speak to all our communities with meaningful clarity. Furthermore, we want all our visitors to feel represented in our permanent collection and find their own "Rivera murals" with which to connect. In fact just last week, my wife, Alex, mentioned that she had recently met a couple from Coldwater, Michigan, visiting the museum with a group. We learned that Coldwater, about 100 miles southwest of Detroit, has one of the largest American Yemeni populations in the state and that this bus trip to the DIA was intended to bring the community together through a better understanding of diverse cultural identities and heritage. I thought this was a brilliant idea and then wondered what would they be looking for in our permanent collection that would speak to them like Miró's Self-Portrait II does to me? The answer is that we have some beautiful Yemeni art at the DIA to which I had not paid much attention. I hope they connected with it and were able to enjoy other parts of the museum as well. Moreover, I am grateful to the Coldwater group for bettering my understanding of our collection--a fine example of how diversity engaged me beyond my own interests.

We hope to continue exploring art through the diverse eyes of our community and will endeavor to communicate that the DIA does have something for everyone. I was reminded of this idea while listening to the multimedia guide for our current 30 Americans (https://ui.constantcontact.com/visualeditor/visual_editor_preview.jsp?ag...(opens in new window)) exhibition. It features interviews with artists, DIA staff, and local students and can be downloaded free as an app (http://www.dia.org/calendar/exhibition.aspx?id=4998&iid=(opens in new window)) for a smartphone or tablet. Looking at one of the works by Jean-Michel Basquiat in the show, Bird on Money (https://rfc.museum/thath-jean-michel-basquiat(opens in new window)), the students commented on graffiti art and how it is commonly found in many parts of Detroit. They talked about the power that this art can have on the community and how it can transform an otherwise abandoned street or a building into something beautiful. The graffiti art of Basquiat spoke directly to these teenagers, who pointed out how surprising it would be to some people to know that these kinds of works are included within the "sacred walls" of a museum. As we continue reaching out to our community, we at the DIA hope you will visit soon, feel welcomed, be pleasantly surprised, and find your very own "Rivera murals."

At a recent meeting, one of my colleagues explained the power of Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry murals and the sense of identity that emanates from them. I could see that this DIA staffer, a Detroiter, felt cultural pride, respect for beauty, and a sincere historical connection with this monumental fresco. I am from Spain, born and raised in Madrid, and while I, too, admire Rivera's murals, when I walk through the galleries I can't stop myself from winking in solidarity at some of the Spanish masters on view. I pay regular visits to Joan Miró's Self-Portrait II (https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/self-portrait-ii/twE...(opens in new window)), and I feel the magic of the Spanish Mediterranean. I can easily connect with this painting, which speaks to me with a clear voice.

Our goal for the DIA collection is that it should speak to all our communities with meaningful clarity. Furthermore, we want all our visitors to feel represented in our permanent collection and find their own "Rivera murals" with which to connect. In fact just last week, my wife, Alex, mentioned that she had recently met a couple from Coldwater, Michigan, visiting the museum with a group. We learned that Coldwater, about 100 miles southwest of Detroit, has one of the largest American Yemeni populations in the state and that this bus trip to the DIA was intended to bring the community together through a better understanding of diverse cultural identities and heritage. I thought this was a brilliant idea and then wondered what would they be looking for in our permanent collection that would speak to them like Miró's Self-Portrait II does to me? The answer is that we have some beautiful Yemeni art at the DIA to which I had not paid much attention. I hope they connected with it and were able to enjoy other parts of the museum as well. Moreover, I am grateful to the Coldwater group for bettering my understanding of our collection--a fine example of how diversity engaged me beyond my own interests.

We hope to continue exploring art through the diverse eyes of our community and will endeavor to communicate that the DIA does have something for everyone. I was reminded of this idea while listening to the multimedia guide for our current 30 Americans (https://ui.constantcontact.com/visualeditor/visual_editor_preview.jsp?ag...(opens in new window)) exhibition. It features interviews with artists, DIA staff, and local students and can be downloaded free as an app (http://www.dia.org/calendar/exhibition.aspx?id=4998&iid=(opens in new window)) for a smartphone or tablet. Looking at one of the works by Jean-Michel Basquiat in the show, Bird on Money (https://rfc.museum/thath-jean-michel-basquiat(opens in new window)), the students commented on graffiti art and how it is commonly found in many parts of Detroit. They talked about the power that this art can have on the community and how it can transform an otherwise abandoned street or a building into something beautiful. The graffiti art of Basquiat spoke directly to these teenagers, who pointed out how surprising it would be to some people to know that these kinds of works are included within the "sacred walls" of a museum. As we continue reaching out to our community, we at the DIA hope you will visit soon, feel welcomed, be pleasantly surprised, and find your very own "Rivera murals."