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The Michigan state Senate has taken measures to protect the Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) works from being sold as a means to help revive the city’s grim economy. On Tuesday, June 4, 2013, the Senate’s General Government Committee approved a bill that aims to codify the ethical standards implemented by the American Alliance of Museums, which bans institutions from selling artworks for any reason other than the enhancement of its collection.

The Senate decided to take action after Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr asked for an appraisal of the DIA’s collection. Orr was considering whether the museum’s multi-billion dollar collection could be considered an asset to Detroit, which could potentially be sold to help cover the city’s $15 billion debt. Orr’s inquiry sparked an immediate reaction and DIA hired bankruptcy lawyer Richard Levin of Cravath, Swaine & Moore to protect the collection from any possible losses.

DIA is a unique public museum as Detroit retains ownership of its building and collection while a separate nonprofit institution manages its day-to-day operations. DIA’s collection includes major works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), and Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). Many of these masterpieces were donated by the city’s finest collectors, some of who have put restrictions on the works stipulating what DIA or the city can do with the works.

The bill, which was approved on a 5-0 vote, will now move to the full state Senate where it will be reviewed later this week.

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In a last-ditch effort to help revive Detroit’s dismal economy, emergency manager Kevyn Orr has asked for an appraisal of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) collection. While nothing has been finalized, Orr is considering whether the museum’s multi-billion dollar collection could be considered an asset to Detroit that could potentially be sold to help cover the city’s $15 billion debt.

Orr’s inquiry sparked an immediate reaction and DIA has hired bankruptcy lawyer Richard Levin of Cravath, Swaine & Moore to advise it in troubling situations and to protect the collection from any possible losses. Orr’s spokesman, Bill Nowling, assured the public that the appraisal is not a sign that they will be selling off the collection, an act that would surely be controversial, complicated, and mired by opposition. DIA is a unique public museum as Detroit retains ownership of its building and collection while a separate nonprofit institution manages its day-to-day operations.

While Nowling is adamant that Orr is not considering selling DIA’s collection, he did say that he would consider the museum’s holdings as assets of the city, especially as Detroit might be filing for bankruptcy. DIA’s collection includes major works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), and Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). Many of these masterpieces were donated by the city’s finest collectors, some of who have put restrictions on the works stipulating what DIA or the city can do with the works. If Orr does decide to sell works from DIA’s collection, it will undoubtedly prohibit the institution from receiving future donations and support.

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Burst of Light: Caravaggio and His Legacy, which is currently on view at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT, is the first exhibition in over 25 years to focus on the legacy of the Italian master, Caravaggio (1571-1610). The show explores Caravaggio’s profound influence on 17th century European art and includes 30 works by followers of the artist known as “Caravaggisti.”

Burst of Life will present five original paintings by Caravaggio including the Wadsworth’s own Ecstasy of St. Francis, which was acquired by the museum in 1944, making it the first Caravaggio work to join an American museum’s collection. The other works on view are Martha and Mary Magdalen from the Detroit Institute of Arts, Salome Receives the Head of St. John the Baptist from the National Gallery in London, The Denial of St. Peter from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO.

Burst of Light explores Caravaggio’s renowned use of light, painstaking attention to detail, and emotionally captivating compositions. The exhibition will be on view through June 16, 2013.

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On February 19, 2013 the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) will present one of Vincent van Gogh’s (1853-1890) most well known paintings, Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles, to the public. The work, which is being loaned to the DIA by the Musée D’Orsay in Paris, will be exhibited in the museum’s Dutch galleries along with three other van Gogh paintings owned by the Detroit Institute.

Van Gogh created three nearly identical paintings of his bedroom; the first rendition was completed in 1888 and is currently part of the Van Gogh Museum’s collection in Amsterdam. After the initial work was damaged in a flood, van Gogh made two copies of the painting, one of which is in the Art Institute of Chicago’s collection and the other, which belongs to the Musée D’Orsay.

The additional works to be exhibited alongside Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles are The Diggers, an interpretation of Jean-Francois Millet’s (1814-1875) painting by the same name, The Portrait of the Postman Roulin, which was painted in van Gogh’s house in Arles, and Self-Portrait, which was completed just before van Gogh moved to Arles from Paris.

The van Gogh paintings will be on view at the DIA through May 28, 2013.

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Despite its stellar reputation, the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection of early American silver has spent the past ten years in storage. Much to the public’s satisfaction, the museum recently decided to put 59 of its most important works back on view.

The Detroit Institute’s silver collection was placed in storage in 2002 while the museum’s historic building was undergoing renovations, which lead to the closure of the American colonial galleries. When the revamped museum reopened in 2007, depleted funds rendered the institution unable to buy new exhibition cases for the silver collection. It wasn’t until 2011 when the Michigan-based Americana Foundation awarded the Detroit Institute a grant that the museum was able to obtain state-of-the-art exhibition cases for their silver collection. The Americana Foundation’s grant also supported new research on the museum’s silver collection.

The Detroit Institute of the Art’s new installation includes American silver as well as two important pieces of late 18th century Chinese export bowls. Highlights include a tankard made in Boston by Edward Winslow (1669-1753) in approximately 1695; a sugar bowl with cover made in New York by Myer Myers (1723-1795), the preeminent Jewish silversmith in colonial America; and a sugar basket made by silversmith and patriot Paul Revere (173-1818) in 1780.

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