Foundations Rescue Detroit’s Accumulated Art

  • Arts & Culture
  • 2014

In a development extraordinary in its intentions, its scope, and its emergency nature, 15 Michigan and national foundations announced that they would pool together $466 million of philanthropic funds to prevent works of art from the Detroit Institute of Arts from being sold off to cover pension shortfalls and other debts amid Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy. The Ford Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, and others pledged the funds to meet immediate demands from city retirees and shield the Detroit Institute so that it can be migrated from city ownership and control to an independent nonprofit trust, preventing the artworks accumulated at the museum over generations of giving from being liquidated and lost to the local viewing public. Donors also contributed to a separate $100 million the Detroit Institute of Arts committed to raise from private sources—including $10 million from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, $3 million from the J. Paul Getty Trust, and $26 million donated by the three Detroit automakers. In response to these private pledges, the state government offered to kick in $200 million. The philanthropic gifts came on top of existing heavy annual giving to the people of the greater Detroit area by most of the same foundations, for purposes ranging from education to policing to social uplift.