Category: Michigan
Author: Michael DeFranceschi • Published March 08, 2024 • Updated

The Most Mesmerizing Masterpieces at the Detroit Institute of Arts [2024]

A traveler & art museum lover reviews USA Today's top rated art museum in the U.S...
The name 'Detroit' on a public art structure near Campus Martius park. Visiting Campus Martius is one of the 25 best things to do in Detroit.

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You are about to see something never-done-before on this blog...

I will be dedicating an entire article to one single attraction. Given how close I live to Detroit and my affinity for the Motor City, I decided to give a personal and in-depth review of one of the city's most esteemed attractions: the Detroit Institute of Arts.

For the years 2023 and 2024, USA Today declared the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) to be the Best Art Museum in America, triumphing over other respected art museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Floor by floor, I will display the art museum's most captivating works and share my overall experience exploring America's finest art museum.

Welcome to the DIA!

IN THIS ARTICLE...

The Most Mesmerizing Masterpieces at the Detroit Institute of Arts [2024]

Admission & parking

What to see at Detroit Institute of Arts-- the entrance to the Detroit Institute of Arts off Woodward Avenue..
The entrance to the DIA, off Woodward Avenue.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is located in downtown Detroit at 5200 Woodward Ave.

Containing over 65,000 artpieces and spanning over 658,000 square feet, the Detroit Institute of Arts is the largest art museum in the midwest!

The length of an average visit for me visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts alone is about 2 hours.

A cool way you can get to the museum is by taking the QLINE either northbound or southbound, depending where you are in the city. Exit the QLINE at the Warren Ave stop and walk about 5 minutes.

QLINE street in downtown Detroit, Michigan
Since the QLINE runs on Woodward, the DIA is only a 5 minute walk from the Warren Ave stop.

If you elect to drive there instead, parking in the Museum Lot costs a flat rate of only $7. If you can find parking on the street, you can pay even less by paying by the hour. Many streets in Detroit only charge $1 per hour!

Purchasing a single adult ticket online for the DIA will cost $21.50. I think if you buy at the museum, they're a couple dollars less.

However, if you're a Michigan resident and live in either Macomb, Wayne, or Oakland county, admission to the DIA is free.

Second floor and exterior

What to see at Detroit Institute of Arts-- statue outside the entrance of the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Michigan
Statues outside the DIA's entrance on Woodward Avenue.

Even before you enter the doors of the Detroit Institute of Arts, you get the opportunity to see amazing sculptures and statues outside!

In an honorary mention on Detroit's most beautiful art sculptures, I included The Thinker statue you'll see near the entrance. Granted, this statue is a replica, not the original.

What to see at Detroit Institute of Arts-- The Thinker statue outside the entrance to the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Michigan
If he's thinking whether he should subscribe to Michael Visits All, the answer is 'Yes!!.

When you enter the museum, you are actually on the second floor, not the first. Once you either purchase a ticket or check-in, you can go left for African American art, go right for European Medieval and Renaissance Art, or proceed straight into the Great Hall.

I would recommend going straight to the Great Hall. But you'll stop. The reason you'll stop?

Let the two pictures below answer that for you!

What to see at Detroit Institute of Arts-- the ceiling of the Great Hall inside the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Michigan
The ceiling of the Great Hall inside the DIA.
What to see at Detroit Institute of Arts-- Great Hall inside the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Michigan
The Great Hall contains multiple entry ways to other exhibits in the museum.

After absorbing the grandeur of the Great Hall, make the first left into the Manoogian Wing. This entry way leads you to the American art section of the DIA.

What to see at Detroit Institute of Arts-- entrance to Manoogian Wing inside the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, MI
Even the doors leading to the art sections themselves are works of art!

A little more...

Inside the Manoogian Wing inside the Detroit Institute of Arts.
After you first step into the Manoogian Wing.

... and then you see... this.

A stained glass masterpiece by American artist John La Forge inside the Manoogian Wing. Part of the American art section inside the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Michigan
A stained glass artpiece of American artist John La Forge.

After walking through the American art section, you can return to the Great Hall and then proceed into Rivera Court, where you'll see murals that are designated as a National Historic Landmark!

These murals are entitled the 'Detroit Industry Murals'.

The Detroit Industry Murals, which are a National Historic Landmark, inside the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, MI
Entering Rivera Court through the Great Hall.

Here is part of one of the Detroit Industry Murals up close.

The Detroit Industry Murals, which are a National Historic Landmark, inside the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, MI
Part of the Detroit Industry Murals, which is designated a National Historic Landmark.

From Great Hall, if you enter Rivera Court, turn left, and then walk all the down, you'll come to another section for African American Art.

Many of the paintings in this part of the museum caught my attention, due to their quirkiness, imagination, and use of color.

A painting inside the African American art section of the Detroit Institute of Arts entitled ' I Grew an Extra Head to Watch Over My Brother (The Middle of Nowhere) by Vaughn Spann.
What if you had two heads??

I liked this one too.

A painting inside the African American art section of the Detroit Institute of Arts.
A painting inside the African American art section.

From the Great Hall, if you step inside Rivera Court and then turn right, you'll walk a stone corridor which leads you to other art sections. This corridor itself is just... incredible.

Stone corridor inside the DIA in Detroit, MI
Stone corridor inside the DIA.

The A. Alfred Taubman Wing leads to European Medieval and Renaissance era art.

A Renaissance era painting inside the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, MI
I've used this picture before when talking about the DIA.
A Renaissance era painting inside the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, MI
A collection of Renaissance-era artwork.

In the European Medieval and Renaissance art section, close to an entrance from Great Hall, you'll see this really cool and narrow spiral staircase which leads you down to the first floor of the museum, near Kresge Court.

A spiral staircase leading to Kresge Court in the DIA.
This cool spiral staircase is a fun way to access the first and second floors.

Now, I'll show some great pieces of art on the first floor...

First floor

Japanese Friendship Dolls on the first floor of the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Japanese Friendship Dolls on the first floor of the DIA.

On the first floor of the DIA, you'll find Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Egyptian, Native American, and several other art sections.

Below are selections of art pieces that grabbed my attention:

Art piece from the Babylonian Empire on the first floor of Detroit Institute of Arts.
Some men think of the Roman Empire. I think of the Babylonian Empire!
Art piece from the Babylonian Empire on the first floor of Detroit Institute of Arts.
Egyptian tombs for mummies.

The first floor of the DIA has two dining options: Kresge Court and CafeDIA.

Kresge Court in the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Kresge Court has opportunities to lounge and is the more aesthetic dining option of the two.

In CafeDIA, one of the stations named Il Forno ('the oven' in Italian) serves Detroit style pizza. Eating some Detroit style pizza while visiting Detroit is one of the many things I strongly suggest doing!

Detroit style pizza from Il Forno in CafeDIA in the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Detroit style pizza, along with a 'dirt cup' for dessert, from Il Forno in CafeDIA.

Let's advance up to the third and final floor of the museum...

Third floor

Kenzler Room on the third floor of the Detroit Institute of Arts.
The Kenzler Room.

If there is one complaint I have with the DIA (at least when I visited), it's that the third floor was a pain in the ass to get to.

Everytime I thought I had found stairs or an elevator to ascend to the third floor, the stairs or elevator would be closed!

To get to the third floor, I found some stairs near one of the African American art sections-- the section I wrote about earlier in the article.

A gorgeous staircase leading up to the third floor of the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Gorgeous staircase leading up to the third floor.

The third floor of the DIA is the smallest floor. Here, you'll find British, Dutch, and other sections labeled Decorative Arts, Fashionable Living, and Era of Revolution.

The highlight of the third floor is the Fashionable Living section. Be sure to check out the Kenzler Room!

You can also enjoy looking down at the lower floor from the rails.

View from the third floor of the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Third floor view.

Conclusion

Of the 65,000+ artpieces inside the Detroit Institute of Arts, what I have shown here is only a tiny fraction. These are the artpieces which stood out to me the most and the ones I personally regard as the museum's masterpieces.

There are many more pictures I could have included in the article. However, I chose not to insert them, as I don't want to spoil the whole museum for you. And given how large the museum is, that'd be difficult to do anyway!

What do you think of the artpieces I curated for this article? Have they inspired you to go visit the DIA? Are there artpieces you feel I should have mentioned but faiied to? Let me know-- I always enjoy hearing from my subscribers and readers!


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