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DIA Statements Regarding the City of Detroit Bankruptcy

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Statement Regarding City of Detroit and Collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts, May 24, 2013
The DIA strongly believes that the museum and the City hold the museum’s art collection in trust for the public. The DIA manages and cares for that collection according to exacting standards required by the public trust, our profession and the Operating Agreement with the City. According to those standards, art cannot be sold generate funds for any purpose other than to enhance the collection. We remain confident that the City and the emergency financial manager will continue to support the museum in its compliance with those standards, and together we will continue to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of Detroit.

Detroit Institute of Arts Statement regarding Michigan Attorney General’s Opinion, June 13, 2013
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s formal opinion confirms our position that the DIA’s art collection is not subject to sale because it is protected by a public trust and, as recognized by the attorney general, a charitable trust that dates back to 1885. These irrevocable, impenetrable trusts have safeguarded the City’s and State’s most important cultural institution for the benefit of the citizens of the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan for nearly 130 years, in the best and worst of times, and will ensure that the museum will be available for future generations of Detroiters and Michiganders. We deeply appreciate the attorney general’s support on this critical issue.

Detroit Institute of Arts Statement Regarding City of Detroit Bankruptcy, July 18, 2013
Like so many with deep roots in this city, the Detroit Institute of Arts is disappointed that the emergency manager determined it was necessary to file for bankruptcy. As a municipal bankruptcy of this size is unprecedented, the DIA will continue to carefully monitor the situation, fully confident that the emergency manager, the governor and the courts will act in the best interest of the City, the public and the museum. We remain committed to our position that the Detroit Institute of Arts and the City of Detroit hold the DIA’s collection in trust for the public and we stand by our charge to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of all Michigan residents.

Detroit Institute of Arts Statement re: Valuation of Art, August 5, 2013
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has learned that Christie’s, at the request of the Emergency Manager, plans to proceed with a valuation of the DIA collection, and we will be cooperating completely in that process. However, we continue to believe there is no reason to value the collection as the Attorney General has made clear that the art is held in charitable trust and cannot be sold as part of a bankruptcy proceeding. We applaud the EM's focus on rebuilding the City, but would point out that he undercuts that core goal by jeopardizing Detroit's most important cultural institution.

In addition, recent moves in Oakland and Macomb counties to invalidate the tri-county millage if art is sold virtually ensure that any forced sale of art would precipitate the rapid demise of the DIA. Removing $23 million in annual operating funds—nearly 75% of the museum’s operating budget—and violating the trust of donors and supporters would cripple the museum, putting an additional financial burden on our already struggling city. The DIA has long been doing business without City of Detroit operating support; any move that compromises its financial stability will endanger the museum and further challenge the City’s future.