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Valuing Detroit's Art Museum


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Table of Contents

1. The Detroit Museum of Art2. The Detroit Institute of Arts, the Founders Society, and the City3. Building Additions, Detroit's Decline, and State Rescue4. Failed Plans, Fresh Crises, a New Relationship5. New Starts, then Detroit's Bankruptcy6. Valuing Art, Trusts, and Return to the Beginning7. Epilogue

Promotional Information

"Jeffrey Abt's gripping account of the Detroit Art Institute's 130 year history culminating with its near-demise in the wake of the city's 2013 bankruptcy is a stirring tale in which against all odds democracy triumphed over predatory creditors and a global art market itching to monetize the institute's priceless collection. Obligatory reading for anyone concerned about the fate of the American art museum in the twenty-first century." (Alan Wallach, The College of William and Mary, USA) "Jeffrey Abt gives a gripping account of the battle that raged around the celebrated holdings of the Detroit Institute of Arts after the city filed for bankruptcy in 2013. In the museum were hugely valuable works by Van Gogh, Picasso and Breughel, as well as tens of thousands of other works. Abt recounts how demands for the art to be sold were fought off and how a "grand bargain" was thrashed out, saving the collections for the city and for future generations." (Georgina Adam, Art market journalist for The Art Newspaper and The Financial Times) "An outstanding work of scholarship and analysis. Jeffrey Abt is the foremost expert on the history of the Detroit Institute of Arts." (Bruce J. Altshuler, New York University, USA) "Jeffrey Abt's strangely gripping story of one museum's, and one city's, financial struggles is brilliantly told. Why this richly detailed case matters not only for what is now called the Detroit Institute of Arts becomes abundantly clear in his deft account. For the struggle is also over the nature of civic property, the implications of public versus private ownership, how art should be displayed, to whom it belongs, how it is valued. As he shows, these are all entangled together in ways often unnoticed by observers. For this reason, this is a story that those all those interested in the politics of museums, art and the cultural life of cities should be sure to read." (Sharon Macdonald, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany)

About the Author

Jeffrey Abt is Professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, USA. He has written two previous books, A Museum on the Verge: A Socioeconomic History of the Detroit Institute of Arts, 1882-2000 and American Egyptologist: The Life of James Henry Breasted and the Creation of His Oriental Institute. Abt is also co-editor of the Museum History Journal.

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