Engaging Detroit: The Detroit Institute of Arts and the African American Community
Beehn, Demecina T.
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This study analyzes the Detroit Institute of Arts' (DIA) exhibition and interpretive labeling strategies that attempt to create a more inclusive institution for the predominantly African American population of Detroit. This study presents a brief overview of Detroit’s demographic change, racial tension between the city and its suburbs, the museum’s reliance on city funds, and its desire to become a more inclusive educational institution for its growing African American population. During its 2007 renovation process, the DIA formed the General Motors Center for African American Art, a curatorial department and gallery spaces specifically for African American art. This study examines a history of segregating the work of African American artists from that of their White peers. The study also seeks to understand the African American engagement built in the museum’s presentation of the exhibition Through African Eyes: The European in African Art, 1500 – Present, which provides a view of colonialism from African artists. This study explores a conflation of African and African diaspora as African American representation, and examines how visitors responded to this exhibition.
SubjectDetroit Institute of Arts
African American Exhibitions
African American museum inclusion