Monday, December 29, 2014

Day in Detroit

When Dave and I talked about coming to Michigan for Christmas, I told him I really wanted to make time to see the Detroit Institute of the Arts. When the city was going through its bankruptcy proceedings and there was talk a few years ago of having to sell some of the art collection, I lamented never visiting.*

Since we got here, though, things have been so crazy busy that I'd resigned myself to skipping the museum. We had a spare day yesterday, but with his sister and her family here, it seemed unlikely we'd be able to run off to Detroit. But then she asked yesterday morning what our plans for the day were, and I said we really didn't have any, but I'd hoped to get to the museum at some point. To my surprise, she jumped at the chance to go, so we all piled into the car and off we went.

There's a lot of tremendous art there, probably collected by the auto magnates during Detroit's heyday as Motor City. The central atrium filled with Diego Rivera's murals of the working man is terrific. (Top -- and by the way, I didn't pose that photo. Those random kids were pointing on their own.) The galleries were filled with work by Cezanne, Van Gogh (above), Picasso, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Judd, O'Keeffe, Rembrandt, you name it.

After wandering for a couple of hours and seeing pretty much all the highlights, we drove into downtown Detroit and went to the American Coney Island hot dog restaurant on a wedge-shaped corner amid the high-rises. I had a bowl of chili with cheese on top. (Yes, I know, our refrigerator is packed with leftovers and we're eating out. It's insane.)

We went walking and stumbled into the Guardian Building, from 1929, which I read about when we first got here in a magazine that Dave's dad picked up at the airport. The tiled lobby ceiling is crazy beautiful.

Dave and his niece and nephew were fascinated by the large Michigan map on the back wall. I bought a Detroit t-shirt in the gift shop, doing my part to help the local economy.

We walked a few more blocks to Hart Plaza, on the river, where the wind was blustery and we stayed just long enough to get some photos of the skyline. That's a fountain, in the center -- in the summer apparently it functions sort of like a huge shower.

Then we headed back to the 'burbs! I'm so glad I got some city time!
*Eventually, after a massive fundraising drive to placate creditors, ownership of the art collection was transferred to a non-profit entity outside municipal reach, protecting the art from sale.


  1. thank you thank you thank you for all the pictures on your blog. i love seeing England but now I get to see sights in other cities here in the US that I will never get to see.
    Isn't blog world a great place?

  2. Oh man! What great pictures! I love that Rivera mural. The massive amount of energy pouring off of it. The kids get it, don't they?
    All just amazing. Personally speaking, I'm thrilled you got some city time.

  3. What a fantastic set of photos today. I wonder what those children were pointing at and I really wonder why kids never seem to do photo-op things like that when I'm out photographing things. I bet the Art Museum would love that photo for one of their publications. It's a perfect "come to the museum and be amazed" kind of photo.
    That Guardian Building is unbelievable. What a stunning place. I'd love to see it in person. I'm so glad you had a chance to get into the city.

  4. love the old buildings. what a shame we don't build them like that anymore.

  5. I am so excited about your trip to Detroit, You certainly made the most of a one day journey! Excellent. Detroit will rise again!

  6. Very cool photos! I love the Van Gogh --

  7. There is a lot of urban Americana in this post! Especially that diner. Love the photos!