News and analysis
January 13, 2014

Detroit Foundations Pledge at Least $330-Million to Save Museum’s Art Collection

Detroit Institute of Arts

The Wedding Dance, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1566, oil on oak panel.

A group of local and national foundations has agreed to contribute more than $330-million to protect the Detroit Institute of Arts collection and help pay for city retiree pensions as part of Detroit’s bankruptcy settlement, according to a statement issued today by bankruptcy mediators.

“We are pleased to contribute to what we hope will be a balanced, workable plan that will enable Detroit to emerge from bankruptcy renewed and stronger,” nine foundations that are part of the plan said in their own statement.

The mediators said additional foundations are expected to announce pledges soon.

They added that the presidents of the Ford Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan will serve on a leadership committee that will coordinate the philanthropic effort.

Other grant makers that have made pledges include the William Davidson Foundation, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, the Hudson-Webber Foundation, the McGregor Fund, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

U.S. bankruptcy mediator Gerald Rosen, a U.S. district judge, has been working for several months to entice foundations to pitch in to help shield the art museum’s city-owned treasures, which Detroit’s creditors are eyeing.

“Helping to protect the hard-earned pensions of city workers while also preserving the DIA’s collection for all the people of Southeastern Michigan are worthy components of a balanced overall settlement that will help ignite Detroit’s renewal,” the foundations said.

They said the pledges would not replace existing philanthropic commitments and were not “intended to be the totality of our investment in Detroit now or in the years to come.”

Send an email to Suzanne Perry.