During the months of July and part of August, managers at the DIA conduct our internal performance reviews. At first, this process might seem burdensome (we all want to continue doing our work, and think that what is done is done!), but it is actually an opportunity to stop, step back, take perspective and observe the fruits the year has yielded. With my team, I find this a good time to reflect upon the accomplishments and the lessons learned and to look at the goals for this upcoming fiscal year. More importantly, this is the moment to thank the teams and to have the necessary conversations of feedback and realignment.
This experience is one of bonding that helps our team gel and come together providing the support where it is needed and strengthening our confidence so we can continue to successfully navigate the “DIA Ship”. Because of the complexities of our operation that require an extraordinarily rich variety of skills and expertise within our teams, employing a standard performance review process for all is not easy. Thus, the museum is now working to improve our overall performance management system to make it more robust, more meaningful, and more effective. We will implement it next year for the benefit of all.
In the meantime, we have accomplished much and can all celebrate a very good year. As I mentioned in my last newsletter, we welcomed a record number of students on field trips – more than 73,000, far exceeding the year museum-wide goal of 69,000. We added more than 100 new art objects strengthening our African American, Contemporary, American, European, African collections among others. Some of these works of art we will be on view in the upcoming months in Out of the Crate, an exhibition series that we started in late 2017 and features recent gifts and acquisitions and is installed in a gallery next to our Rivera murals.
This year the DIA organized its first ever Monet exhibition which brought close to 100,000 visitors. We established our first working collaboration with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and opened the exhibition Art of Rebellion, which won the Peninsulas Prize from the Michigan Museums Association. And while community engagement and relevance are core to our work through our education and public programs as well as exhibitions, we have continued focusing on the financial sustainability of the organization and have grown our operating endowment from $161 to $190 million.
In terms of capital projects, we continue to take care of our building. We replaced the roof of the Detroit Film Theatre and implemented new security systems to better protect our visitors, our staff and our amazing collection. And because not everything happens inside the DIA, we have worked collaboratively with Midtown Inc., and neighboring organizations to explore the future possibility to reactivate the grounds of the cultural district with public art, architecture and programs. While this is a long-term goal, it aligns well with the renaissance that the city of Detroit is experiencing and the role we all want the DIA to play in our communities.
Our members are growing in numbers and the residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties continue to enjoy free unlimited general admission, which brought our visitation numbers close to 700,000 for the year. While we continue to meet our goals defined in our county service agreements, investing over $1.8 million, we are grateful for the support of the residents and are committed to deepening our partnership with the tri-county area, to serve our communities in a broader and more relevant fashion every day. Our teams have accomplished so much more, and I am so very thankful to the staff and volunteers for their passion and commitment. They make the DIA so much more than a museum.
As we look back on the year and close our performance review process, I feel I should be meeting with each one of you to get your feedback and understand how you see the museum performing. We exist to serve you. Please be in touch and email me your comments. I look forward to hearing from you and to seeing you in the galleries. The summer is still going and we have much to offer you, including the final weeks of our very successful show, Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume!!!