Why go? A peek inside some of the state’s best art museums

With the end of a summer approaching, Michigan tourists may be looking for more indoor destinations in fall. The state’s art museums welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors in a year, with collections and programming that vary widely. A few possibilities are:

Detroit Institute of Arts
Michigan’s largest, located on Woodward Avenue in the city’s cultural district.

Annual budget: $31 million, 75 percent of which comes from a property-tax millage paid by Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County residents.

Attendance: 594,000 last fiscal year

Noteworthy exhibits: Diego Rivera’s “Detroit Industry” murals; paintings by Rembrandt, Degas, Van Gogh, Bruegel, others; African, African-American, Middle Eastern, contemporary and other specialized collections.

Why visit? A reorganization in 2007 hung the art “for the general public, rather than specialists,” said director Graham Beal. It becomes more accessible. People understand you have to modify the product if you want to change the audience.”

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
314 South Park St., Kalamazoo.

Annual budget: $3.8 million

Attendance: 92,924 in 2012

Noteworthy exhibits: A permanent collection covering five galleries, including American painting, sculpture and ceramics; photography; African-American, pre-Columbian and Asian artists and pieces.

Why visit? “We’re the finest visual art institution between Detroit and Chicago,” said director Jim Bridenstine.

Flint Institute of Arts
1120 East Kearsley St.

Annual budget: $4.4 million

Attendance: 153,000 in most recent fiscal year

Noteworthy exhibits: Paintings by Auguste Renoir, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Thomas Hart Benton, Andrew Wyeth; European decorative arts; a rare shaped panel by Peter Paul Rubens; and modern and contemporary pieces.

Why visit? “We’re the real experience. That’s why we endure,” said director John Henry. “You see what the artist made. It’s not a facsimile. You see what Peter Paul Rubens painted. It has a great power.”

Grand Rapids Art Museum
101 Monroe Center St. NW

Annual Budget: $4.6 million

Attendance: 265,567 in 2012

Noteworthy exhibits: The building itself, a Gold LEED-certified structure completed in 2007 at a cost of $59 million. Also: Prints and “improvisational quilts” by Susana Allen Hunter. Attendance spikes during Art Prize, the city’s annual crowd-driven competition for contemporary artists, when the building serves as a first stop for many tourists. (It’s also free during Art Prize.)

Why visit?  “We’re adjacent to a fantastic park designed by Maya Lin, in a high-energy downtown. We’re playing a role in making downtown a 24-7 kind of place,” said Dana Friis-Hansen, museum director.

Eli and Edythe Broad Museum of Art
on the Michigan State University campus, East Lansing

Attendance: Still in his first year, it’s expected to top 120,000 by November

Annual budget: $3 million

Noteworthy exhibits: A changing array of contemporary and avant-garde pieces and installations, plus a sculpture garden. The building itself is nominated for an award at the World Architecture Festival, happening this fall in Singapore.

Why visit? Imaginative programming: A recent exhibit on Brazil was complemented with a bicycle tour of Lansing, to compare the Michigan city with its South American counterparts. “In terms of programming, the finest work that you might see in Paris or New York or Los Angeles, you can see here in our museum,” said Michael Rush, director

Muskegon Museum of Art
296 W. Webster Ave.

Annual budget: $1.1 million

Attendance: 28,787 last fiscal year

Noteworthy exhibits: American and European painting, sculpture, works on paper, including “Tornado Over Kansas” by John Steuart CQ Curry and “New York Restaurant” by Edward Hopper.

Why visit? Director Judith Hayner: “The city’s challenges have always been significant. The loss of lumber industry, deindustrialization, but what is remarkable is our infrastructure, a nationally accredited art museum. We have a great collection. We’ve raised $7.5 million in the last 18 months. That’s incredible.”

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Tom Sullivan
Thu, 08/22/2013 - 8:30am
Guests are also welcome to the Arthur Secunda Museum at Cleary University for a wonderful presentation of the artist's work. Phase two opens on October 13 th at 2:00 p.m. Visit the university's web site for more information.
Frank Kalinski
Thu, 08/22/2013 - 10:32am
Some fuzzy math: DIA is $52 per visit while Grand Rapids is $16 per visit; Average for is $32. How does GRAM attract so many people with such a small budget?? Toledo Art Museum is a must too! The Glass Museum is excellent!
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