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July 22, 2016

Detroit Museum Launches Push to Acquire African-American Art

The Detroit Institute of Arts kicked off a three-year, multimillion-dollar program this week to acquire and spotlight works by black artists, writes the Detroit Free Press. The effort reflects a key priority of museum director Salvador Salort-Pons, who in his first year on the job has set out plans to make the museum more culturally relevant to audiences in the largely African-American city.

The push got off to a formal start Wednesday as the museum’s board approved the purchase of a sculpture by seminal contemporary artist David Hammons, which the Free Press estimates probably cost at least $1 million. Along with additional major acquisitions, the museum plans broader exhibitions, commissions, community partnerships, and other means to showcase and promote African-American artists.

The Ford Foundation, a $125 million contributor to the “grand bargain” that helped protect the institute’s holdings from sale during Detroit’s bankruptcy crisis, has pledged financial support for the effort. “Museums should educate and empower the citizenry, and nothing is more empowering for African Americans than seeing great art by African Americans on the walls of a museum like the DIA," said Darren Walker, the foundation’s president.