The Detroit Institute of Arts has one of the largest and most significant art collections in the United States. With more than 65,000 artworks that date from the earliest civilizations to the present, the museum offers visitors an encounter with human creativity from all over the world. Visit the DIA today to immerse yourself in more than 100 galleries, or get inspired at home with the thousands of artworks digitized in our online collection.

 

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Kongo, Knife Case and Lid, 16th/18th Century, Ivory. Detroit Institute of Arts.

Africa, Oceania & Indigenous Americas

Discover the captivating arts of African cultures south of the Sahara Desert and Egypt, as well as the artistic expressions of the indigenous populations of North, Central and South America.

African Art

Did you know that the DIA's African art collection ranks among the finest in the world?

Explore the cultural diversity and rich history of Africa's people through works made from ancient stone, clay, wood, and metal, as well as utilitarian objects, musical instruments, ceremonial costumes and contemporary paintings. This collection, established in the 1890s, has grown significantly, particularly over the last four decades. It now includes nearly 2,700 pieces from approximately one hundred African cultures. Although its primary emphasis is on the arts of regions south of the Sahara Desert, the department has recently expanded to include North African and contemporary African works.

Join the Friends of African and African American Art today to meet other art lovers and learn more about the African art collection.

Indigenous American Art

Experience the ancient arts of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru and other Central and South American countries in the DIA's Native American galleries. With approximately 3,871 objects, this collection showcases terracotta, wood and stone figures, masks, ceramic and wooden utensils, metalwork, textiles and costumes covering about 3,000 years.

Egyptian Art

Investigate mummies, coffins, tomb wall fragments, manuscripts and objects from daily life in ancient Egypt. This rich and diverse collection of objects spans approximately 3,000 years of Egyptian civilization.

Oceanic Art

This small collection includes creative works from the peoples of Australia and the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii and Easter Island, spanning approximately 150 years. The DIA is currently not actively collecting Oceanic Art and there is no gallery dedicated to it.

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Robert Duncnson, Fruit Piece

American Art

Consider a painting of exploding fireworks that changed the course of modern art or a grand view of a volcanic eruption in Ecuador showing the natural world thrown into chaos. Look for a heroic story of escape from a shark attack in Havana Harbor, gritty scenes of the modern metropolis, or imagined vignettes from myth, legend and literature. Compare images of doting parents in a quiet home to scenes of adventure on the frontier. Stand among furniture that survived the American Revolution, opulent silver from the Gilded Age, and ceramics crafted by Detroit artists who transformed useful things into inspiring objects. Explore painted visions of the unique beauty of the American landscape and the crisp abstractions of modern artists inventing new ways of understanding old things.  

Surround yourself in a world-famous mural that captures the power of Detroit workers and industry during the Great Depression. Step into historic architectural spaces furnished to suggest daily life in the colonial past.



These are just a few examples of what awaits you in the DIA’s collection of American Art. This collection includes roughly 5,000 paintings, sculptures and decorative art objects made by North, Central, and South American artists between 1660 and 1950. These diverse objects provide a more thorough understanding of how artists and designers shaped the culture and history of the Americas.

The DIA’s important historic works by African American artists is part of the General Motors Center for African American Art collection.

Join the Associates of the American Wing today to meet other art lovers and learn more about the behind the scenes of the DIA's stunning American collection.

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Sakyamuni Emerging from the Mountains, late 13th/early 14th Century

The Arts of Asia and the Islamic World

Discover a multitude of artworks made throughout Asia, the Ancient Middle East, and the Islamic World. The collection dates from ancient times to the present and includes carved stone, cast bronze, painted pottery, molded glass, exquisite textiles, religious sculptures and fine paintings.

Arts of the Ancient Middle East

Writing. Coins. Pottery. Wheels. All common features of life in the 21st century.

But they didn’t always exist. They were created over the course of nearly 9,000 years by the people of the Ancient Middle East, where early civilizations were born.

You’ll find these inventions and more in the DIA's collection, which features carved stone reliefs, metalwork, ceramics, glass, coins and clay writing tablets. These objects chart the rise of writing, of trade and commercial transactions, of religions, of cities and of empires in the great early civilizations of the Middle East.

Arts of the Islamic World

The Arts of the Islamic World collection dates from 600 CE to the present. But perhaps you’re wondering what is meant by Islamic World. From where, geographically, do these objects come?



The answer might surprise you. The objects come from an expansive area of Islamic influence, which—beginning about 1400 years ago—stretched from the Middle East to South and Southeast Asia, as well as to Southern Europe and North Africa. The richness of the ceramics, metalwork, rugs and carpets, woven silks and decorated textiles reflect the influences of the diverse languages, existing religions, and social structures of the peoples who resided in these areas.

Arts of Asia

The DIA's collection of Asian Art offers a glimpse into the cultures of China, Japan, Korea and South and Southeast Asia. The collection spans more than 4,000 years and includes the world’s most intricately cast bronze ritual vessels and first porcelain dishes and as well as rare religious sculptures.

Arts of China

Chinese scholars used ink to paint on silk and paper to capture the spirit of their subjects rather than creating a realistic likeness. This artistic technique is part of the vast diversity and long history of Chinese Art. You’ll find examples of this and more in the DIA’s collection, which also includes ancient ritual bronze vessels, burial pottery, the world’s first porcelain dishes, inlaid lacquerware, scroll paintings and religious sculptures.

Arts of Korea

In the Korean Art collection, you’ll find objects as old as three thousand years and as recent as the last decade. Some were used in daily life, others used by scholars or for devotion and worship. Together, these objects demonstrate both Korea’s uniqueness and the influences of its art forms, writing systems and technologies in the art of East Asia.

Arts of Japan

What do cherry blossoms, the autumn moon, wintry pines and scenes from the world’s first novel have in common? They are all examples of images traditionally found in the arts of Japan art. Discover these and many more in the DIA’s collection of Japanese Art, which also includes fine tea ware, luxurious costumes and exquisite lacquerware.

Arts of South and Southeast Asia

Discover the artistic expressions of South and Southeast Asia through extraordinary objects inspired by Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religions. The collection features objects such as palm-leaf-manuscripts, small temple and altar statues and  life-size sculptures.

Join the Friends of Asian Arts and Cultures today to meet other art lovers and learn more about the behind the scenes of the DIA's Asian Arts and Cultures collection.

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Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes, c. 1623/1625, Oil on canvas. Detroit Institute of Arts.

European Art

The DIA's collection of European art is one of the largest and most distinguished in the United States. With a wide range of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts from across Europe, the collection includes works spanning the ages from ancient Greece and Rome to 1950.

European Paintings

Imagine yourself taking part in a lively wedding dance or gazing upon a cheerless cemetery. Picture a scene where a woman commits an act of heroism to save her people. These images are just a few of those you will find in the European Paintings collection, recognized as one of the finest in the United States. It includes work by well-known painters of religious imagery, portraits, landscapes and scenes from everyday life. The collection features nearly 1,000 paintings that date from the 1100s until 1950.

Join the European Paintings Council today to meet other art lovers and learn more about the behind the scenes of the DIA's stunning European Paintings collection.

European Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Sometimes sculpture represents devotional figures. It can also take the likeness of real people or tell stories of myths and legends.

Decorative arts are objects that are ornamental but also functional —ranging from striking suits of armor and elegantly upholstered furniture to gleaming silver serving dishes and delicate porcelain teacups.

Discover these and more in the museum's collection of European sculpture and decorative arts. The collection spans the years from the 400s to the 1800s and is considered among the best in the world. It includes nearly 7,000 artworks and reflects the technical accomplishments achieved by some of Europe's most accomplished artists and artisans.

Join the Visiting Committee for European Sculpture and Decorative Arts today to meet other art lovers and learn more about the behind the scenes of the DIA's stunning European sculpture and decorative arts collection.

Modern Art

Modern artists were known for their radical use of color, form and subject matter and their experimentation with nontraditional materials and techniques. As risk takers who broke with the past and challenged the art of previous generations, they also offer viewers new and unexpected ways of seeing, interpreting and experiencing the contemporary world.

This collection of more than 1,000 paintings, sculptures and decorative objects showcases the innovative ideas and new forms of expression of some of the most important European artists and designers from 1850 to 1950.

Join the Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art today to meet other art lovers and learn more about the behind the scenes of the DIA's Modern and Contemporary collections.

Ancient Western Antiquities

Do you know how ancient Greek, Etruscan and Roman civilizations worshipped their gods and goddesses and honored the dead? Would you like to discover what daily life was like in ancient Greece and Italy? This DIA collection of more than 2,500 objects offers a window into the classical world by showcasing sculptures, architectural fragments, ceramic and glass vessels, jewelry, and utilitarian objects among other fascinating items covering approximately thirteen centuries.

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Michelangelo, Scheme for the Decoration of the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, c. 1508, Pen and brown ink and black chalk on cream laid paper. Detroit Institute of Arts.

Prints Drawings & Photographs

Explore more than five centuries of works on paper, from 16th-century preparatory drawings and sketches to contemporary photographs and artworks exploring various printmaking techniques, such as lithography, woodcut, engraving and etching. This collection contains approximately 35,000 prints, drawings, photographs, watercolors, posters and artists’ books by some of the world’s best known artists and representing a variety of cultures, with particular emphasis on European and American works.

Join the Friends of Prints, Drawings and Photographs today to meet other art lovers and get behind the scenes in the DIA’s Prints, Drawings and Photographs collection.

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Something You Can Feel,” Mickalene Thomas

General Motors Center For African American Art

Did you know that the General Motors Center for African American Art is one of the first curatorial departments exclusively devoted to African American art at a major museum? Established in 2000, this department is committed to increasing awareness of the contributions of African Americans to the arts community and to highlighting American history, society and creative expression from an African American perspective.

Discover artworks created by African American artists of local and national reputation, who experiment with the artistic styles and techniques of their time who explore identity, race, political and social consciousness, among other important issues. This collection holds close to 600 artworks from the mid-19th century to today and includes paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures and photographs.

Join the Friends of African and African American Art today to meet other art lovers and learn more about the African American art collection and the work of the General Motors Center for African American art.

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Robert Moskowitz, Hard Ball III, 1993, oil on canvas. Detroit Institute of Arts.

Contemporary Art

The DIA's Contemporary Art collection features artwork by local, national, and international artists. Through their work, these individuals both explore and question aspects of modern life.

The collection contains over 3,500 paintings, video and installation-based artwork, sculpture, and studio craft objects spanning from the 1950s to the present. Some were created using traditional methods and materials, while others creatively challenge convention. The collection’s development is ongoing with the continual acquisition of work created by living artists.

Join the Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art today to meet other art lovers and learn more about the behind the scenes of the DIA's Modern and Contemporary collections.

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Walter E. Deaves, Diver, 1903, Wood paint and cloth. Detroit Institute of Arts.

Performing Arts

The Performing Arts Collection contains more than 10,000 original film and theater photographs, posters, and ephemera from all over the world. The materials date from the early 1900s to the present.

Paul McPharlin Puppetry Collection

Puppets are used to tell stories and bring our imagination to life. This performing arts tradition is thousands of years old and is found in cultures from all over the world. The Paul McPharlin Puppetry Collection is one of the most significant collections of theatrical puppets in the United States. The bulk of the collection is  American theatrical puppets made between 1850 and 1950, but it also features:

  • stages and production sets
  • detailed records of American puppet troupes
  • rare books that trace the ancient history of the puppet theater

Because many of the puppets in our collection are made of delicate materials that can be easily damaged, individual puppets cannot be on permanent display and are rotated every six months. But you can view examples here on our website any time you want. Let a puppet spark your imagination.

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Digitization of the American collection was made possible by a grant from The Henry Luce Foundation. Digitization of the collection of prints, drawings, and photographs was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant MA-30-15-0474-15.