Monday, November 12, 2007

First Online Impressions of the Newly Renovated and Re-Imagined Detroit Institute of Arts

The soon-to-reopen, newly redone DIA is giving me a reason to want to run to Detroit! Yes, the building has been expanded thanks to a world-known architect, but that's not what I care about. What caught my eye immediately was this:

But the new DIA is not a piece of showpiece architecture. The critical component of the reinvention is how the art is displayed. Instead of relying on traditional art history or chronology to organize the collection, the DIA is experimenting with themes and stories that connect the art to everyday life.

Ah: themes, storytelling, the possibility of interdisciplinary display and, to top it all off: relevance.

But wait, it gets better!

"I know this will become more of a destination for me," said Elaine Minkin. "The ambiance and the vistas are just so inviting, and the explanations of the art are very understandable. "

"Inviting" and "understandable"--usability and accessibility--yes, these are exactly what not just art museums but all museums should be striving for, and I'm excited for the city of Detroit that it sounds like their art museum has achieved those goals!

DIA leaders say they have tried to do everything possible to enhance the visitor experience.

Again: bingo! Visitor experience is key, and I hope that beyond just re-interpreting the art, the DIA has also invested in training its floor staff and any staff that may interact with the public that this is the case.

Many of these strategies are standard in special exhibitions, but no other American museum of the DIA's size and stature has invested so heavily in enhancing its permanent collection to reach out to the public so directly.

And I hope that that will change! Kudos, DIA!


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