Over the Thanksgiving holiday my wife and I connected with our families in the U.S. and abroad, exchanging good wishes and many messages. Among other things, our son shared with us an interesting article: “Most livable cities in the U.S.” included in Far & Wide online publication. In it, the author, Ryan McWilliams, covers the 2021 Mercer’s Quality of Living study, which ranks 231 of the most livable cities in the world and “serves as the reliable guide for aspiring expatriates.” The Mercer study evaluates cities on a number of factors including safety, education, hygiene, health care, culture, recreation, economic environment, public transportation services, socio-cultural environment, and consumer goods availability, among others. I am not surprised that my son would look into such an interesting report since he lives abroad and has not decided where he will move next – he is passionate about traveling and exploring cultures.
Looking at the article, he called our attention to Detroit’s ranking – number 72 as the most livable city in the world and number 17 in the U.S. An image of Detroit’s renovated riverfront illustrates the section and the Detroit Institute of Arts is mentioned as on par with New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. While I always thought Detroit was one of the most interesting cities in the country because of its culture, history, and contributions to humankind (no less than the automotive industry – Detroit put the world on wheels!), it is great to see that the perception of Detroit around the world is positive. My wife and I felt very lucky the Friday of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to live in the city and took an hour to visit our hometown museum. The galleries were busy with many visitors who were enjoying our world-class collection, temporary exhibitions, and the Detroit Film Theatre. We were all masked, but one of the security officers recognized us and mentioned that it was nice to see us enjoy the DIA as visitors. We did, in fact, stop in front of some of our favorite artworks, which reminded me of the reason I came to Detroit almost 14 years ago: to be a curator for one of the best museums in the world.
Last week we were recognized for the extraordinary work that the DIA team does for our communities across the region when the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation very generously awarded the DIA, among other regional art and cultural institutions, with an extraordinary annual gift of $700,000, which would be similar to (or the equivalent of) a $14 million endowment to sustain the work of the museum and make it accessible to all. This amazing gift underscores the DIA’s crucial impact in supporting the economic development of our region, enhancing the quality of life, and the economy through the support of job creation, access to education, tourist attraction and more. There are very few cities in the world that can point to their residents that they have a world-class museum like the DIA. Detroit can. As we strive to bring the best art to the DIA and engage with all of you, let’s work together to ensure our activities are channeled through the lenses of inclusion, diversity, equity, and access. With this approach we shall continue to enhance the quality of living in our city and region. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has provided all of us with renewed tools. We are very grateful and inspired. Now, let’s get to work.