The Detroit Institute of Arts Added 463 Works of Art To Its Collection in 2020

The acquisitions — including significant contributions to the DIA’s Native American collection — are a highlight for the city’s marquee cultural institution after a rocky summer for cultural institutions across the country.


The Detroit Institute of Arts acquired 463 works of art this year.

While the vast majority of those acquisitions were gifts to the museum, about $3.5 million of the museum’s restricted funds were spent to acquire 24 works of art, including work by groundbreaking abstract artist Mavis Pusey and landscape painter Thomas Cole among others.

The acquisitions included contributions to the DIA’s Native American collection, including mixed media work by Jaune Quick-to­See Smith and other new works by women artists.

In a press release, director Salvador Salort-Pons pointed out the need to diversify the DIA’s collections as museums around the country faced a racial reckoning in 2020, focused on a lack of diversity in whose artwork hangs in their galleries and who works in the front offices.

“Museum collections are not static; they are dynamic and evolving,” said Salort-Pons in a statement. “We see artworks through new lenses in today’s world. As we work to serve new audiences and create a more inclusive society, it is important to leverage acquisitions to evolve our collection to better mirror our community.”

Highlights of the DIA’s artwork acquisitions this year can be found here.

Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

The acquisitions are a highlight for the museum this year alongside news of more than $10 million in commitments to operating endowment and the passage of a tri-county millage in March

Alongside the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), which saw its longtime executive director ousted, the DIA had a rocky summer.

It started in July with a whistleblower complaint that alleged a conflict of interest as to how a painting was acquired. Following a three-month review, an outside law firm found no wrongdoing.

Shortly after, DIA staffers called for the resignation of Salort-Pons, alleging a “toxic work environment and ignoring the voices of workers of color,” according to a report in the Detroit Free Press. Following the report, the museum announced the hiring of a national firm to lead a new “inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility initiative.”

In November, the DIA opened a new exhibit dedicated to Detroit’s car culture heritage as well as the autoworkers who helped build them.

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  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host of "In the Groove" on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.