Museum InfoMedia Room

DIA exterior at night
DIA exterior at night

Construction Delays DIA Completion By One Year

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The renovation and expansion project (Master Plan Project) at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) will continue into 2007, an addition of about one year to the original construction schedule. The museum remains open with a full schedule of exhibitions and programs in the coming months, including a completely new installation featuring many of the masterworks from the DIA’s extraordinary collection. Construction delays are attributable to an extensive asbestos abatement program and major reconstruction in the South and North wings.

“We were aware of significant infrastructure problems present in both wings, but it was impossible to know the full extent of some of those problems until recently,” said Graham W.J. Beal, DIA director. “During preliminary demolition in the South wing we learned that the building contained extensive amounts of asbestos. We now know that the cost of undertaking complete abatement and reconstruction to resolve the issue permanently is approximately $40 million and have determined to proceed despite the substantial additional financial cost and unexpected delay.”

The Master Plan Project will provide significant improvement in the museum’s conservation environment by replacing infrastructure and outdated building systems in the original 1927 building and both wings, which were built in the late 1960s. The museum improvements will include better traffic patterns throughout the museum, increased gallery and program space and upgraded amenities for visitors. Construction costs were initially estimated at $91 million. Reinstallation of the museum’s collection adds approximately $10 million. The changing scope of the project and the additional demolition, abatement and reconstruction attributable to the asbestos removal ($57 million) bring the total project cost to $158 million.

At its September 15 meeting, the DIA Board of Directors approved a recommendation from the museum’s Building and Finance Committees to work to secure the additional funding and continue the Master Plan Project as planned. The board, staff and volunteers are focused on achieving that goal.

“Like other cultural organizations the DIA is challenged to provide services and raise funds, facing the reality of reduced government support and an uncertain economy,” said Eugene A. Gargaro, Jr., Chairman of the DIA Board of Directors. “We intend to work with the City of Detroit, the State of Michigan and our many devoted supporters to find a way to meet this new challenge as we continue the museum’s mission to enrich, enlighten and educate the public.”

Major construction and renovation in the original Paul Cret building has been completed. Contractors are currently completing the abatement of the South wing, which is presently closed to the public. Within the next few months the North wing will be closed to the public and abatement will begin in that area. The asbestos abatement is confined to areas completely contained from the public, museum staff and volunteers. The DIA is strictly adhering to federal and state regulations regarding asbestos abatement. In addition, ongoing testing is conducted to ensure a safe environment. Special exhibitions and museum programs will continue to take place in the original building throughout the project.

“While some major museums have closed during construction, we decided to remain open through construction because we believe deeply in the importance of this institution to our community,” Beal said. “That conviction remains with us as we welcome school groups, open new exhibitions and provide programs that engage and inform our visitors. We understand fully the challenge that we face, but we are prepared to work tirelessly to ensure that the DIA maintains its position as one of the leading fine arts museums in the country.”