Palgrave Studies in American Economic History

Valuing Detroit’s Art Museum

A History of Fiscal Abandonment and Rescue

Authors: Abt, Jeffrey

  • Embeds a comprehensive institutional history within an account of the life of a city
  • Charts the dramatic rescue of the museum's collections during Detroit's bankruptcy
  • Appeals to a highly interdisciplinary audience
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eBook $99.00
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-45219-7
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $129.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-319-45218-0
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

This book explores the perilous situation that faced the Detroit Institute of Arts during the city's bankruptcy, when creditors considered it a "nonessential asset" that might be sold to settle Detroit's debts. It presents the history of the museum in the context of the social, economic, and political development of Detroit, giving a history of the city as well as of the institution, and providing a model of contextual institutional history.

Abt describes how the Detroit Institute of Arts became the fifth largest art museum in America, from its founding as a private non-profit corporation in 1885 to its transformation into a municipal department in 1919, through the subsequent decades of extraordinary collections and facilities growth coupled with the repeated setbacks of government funding cuts during economic downturns. Detroit's 2013 bankruptcy underscored the nearly 130 years of fiscal missteps and false assumptions that rendered the museum particularly vulnerable to the monetary power of a global art investment community eager to capitalize on the city's failures and its creditors' demands.
This is a remarkable and important contribution to many fields, including non-profit management and economics, cultural policy, museum and urban history, and the histories of both the Detroit Institute of Arts and the city of Detroit itself. Despite the museum's unique history, its story offers valuable lessons for anyone concerned about the future of art museums in the United States and abroad.

About the authors

Jeffrey Abt is Professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, USA. He has written two previous books, A Museum on the Verge: A Socioeconomic History of the Detroit Institute of Arts, 1882-2000 and American Egyptologist: The Life of James Henry Breasted and the Creation of His Oriental Institute. Abt is also co-editor of the Museum History Journal.

Reviews

“Jeffrey Abt’s gripping account of the Detroit Art Institute’s 130 year history culminating with its near-demise in the wake of the city’s 2013 bankruptcy is a stirring tale in which against all odds democracy triumphed over predatory creditors and a global art market itching to monetize the institute’s priceless collection. Obligatory reading for anyone concerned about the fate of the American art museum in the twenty-first century.” (Alan Wallach, The College of William and Mary, USA)

“Jeffrey Abt gives a gripping account of the battle that raged around the celebrated holdings of the Detroit Institute of Arts after the city filed for bankruptcy in 2013. In the museum were hugely valuable works by Van Gogh, Picasso and Breughel, as well as tens of thousands of other works. Abt recounts how demands for the art to be sold were fought off and how a “grand bargain” was thrashed out, saving the collections for the city and for future generations.” (Georgina Adam, Art market journalist for The Art Newspaper and The Financial Times)

“An outstanding work of scholarship and analysis. Jeffrey Abt is the foremost expert on the history of the Detroit Institute of Arts.” (Bruce J. Altshuler, New York University, USA)

“Jeffrey Abt’s strangely gripping story of one museum’s, and one city’s, financial struggles is brilliantly told. Why this richly detailed case matters not only for what is now called the Detroit Institute of Arts becomes abundantly clear in his deft account. For the struggle is also over the nature of civic property, the implications of public versus private ownership, how art should be displayed, to whom it belongs, how it is valued. As he shows, these are all entangled together in ways often unnoticed by observers. For this reason, this is a story that those all those interested in the politics of museums, art and the cultural life of cities should be sure to read.” (Sharon Macdonald, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany)

Table of contents (6 chapters)

  • The Detroit Museum of Art

    Abt, Jeffrey

    Pages 1-44

  • The Detroit Institute of Arts, the Founders Society, and the City

    Abt, Jeffrey

    Pages 45-81

  • Building Additions, Detroit’s Decline, and State Rescue

    Abt, Jeffrey

    Pages 83-119

  • Failed Plans, Fresh Crises, a New Relationship

    Abt, Jeffrey

    Pages 121-149

  • New Starts, Then Detroit’s Bankruptcy

    Abt, Jeffrey

    Pages 151-191

Buy this book

eBook $99.00
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-45219-7
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $129.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-319-45218-0
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Valuing Detroit’s Art Museum
Book Subtitle
A History of Fiscal Abandonment and Rescue
Authors
Series Title
Palgrave Studies in American Economic History
Copyright
2017
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
Jeffrey Abt
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-45219-7
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-45219-7
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-45218-0
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XVII, 273
Number of Illustrations and Tables
43 b/w illustrations, 12 illustrations in colour
Topics