Meet the New Director Of the Detroit Institute of Arts

“I don’t know how to paint or draw… but art has always been a nice work companion in my life,” says new head of DIA


“I don’t know how to paint or draw… but art has always been a nice work companion in my life… it makes me think in different ways,” says Salvador Salport-Pons, the new CEO of the Detroit Institute of ArtsHe says art has, “A sort of silent influence in an individual… and helps them develop an ability to problem solve.”

Salport-Pons came to America from Madrid in 2004 after studying art in both Spain and Italy. After coming to the states he worked in Dallas at a small museum, and then came to Detroit as a curator of European art. Salport-Pons began work in his new role as CEO in the fall of 2015. 

“It’s a very good time to be at the DIA,” says Salvador Salport-Pons. He says the museum has a unique position in that it’s a private museum that is publicly funded. 

Salport-Pons spoke with Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson about his promotion to head of the DIA, and about the challenges the art museum faces over the next few years. The DIA played a key role in the so-called “Grand Bargain” during Detroit’s bankruptcy proceedings, raising money with foundations and joining the state to ensure art at the DIA was not sold to city creditors. The Grand Bargain came just months after voters in the surrounding counties approved a millage increase to generate revenue for the DIA. Salport-Pons says the museum needs to raise tens-of-millions of dollars in the next few years as part of that millage proposal to become financially independent.

“We’re looking in Detroit, we’re looking Michigan and we’re looking in the country,” to raise the money, says Salport-Pons. He says the story of rejuvenation in Detroit should resonate well nationwide, and generate excitement for the DIA. “I like to say that the millage has been a wonderful thing for the DIA… but what has been greater is this millage has changed the culture of the DIA.”

To hear more of Salport-Pons’ conversation with Henderson on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.