Scathing sign lampoons DIA's Barat House demolition


Last week, it was announced that the Detroit Institute of Arts would soon demolish the Barat House, a mid-century modern former psych ward for troubled girls designed by noted architect Robert H. Snyder. A DIA spokeswoman said the demo would take two weeks.

Turns out, the demolition is moving fast — by Sunday afternoon, half the building was already reduced to rubble. But a closer look at the site on Sunday revealed someone had scrambled to make a clever, barbed criticism of the demolition.

It looks like some quick-thinking prankster went to work, zip-tying a makeshift museum label done in the style of the DIA's own to the fence. It reads:

Barat House, 1961
Concrete, brick, cinderblock, steel, and glass

Robert Harter Snyder
American, 1918-1985

This unique midcentury modern building was commissioned by the League of Catholic Women as a psychiatric clinic for young women. Its functions evolved over time, but it was occupied for more than 50 years until being purchased by the DIA in order to be demolished to create 65 new parking spaces.

Museum Purchase 

It's unknown who is behind the sign. (We can't help but wonder if it was artist Jerry Vile, who had previously set up 100 plastic lawn flamingos painted as vultures on the museum's lawn during the bankruptcy scare.)

Regardless, we have to admit it makes for some scathing postmodern art.
Location Details

Barat House

5250 John R, Detroit Greater Detroit Area

(313) 833-1525

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About The Author

Lee DeVito

Leyland "Lee" DeVito grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, where he read Metro Times religiously due to teenaged-induced boredom. He became a contributing writer for Metro Times in 2009, and Editor in Chief in 2016. In addition to writing, he also supplies occasional illustrations. His writing has been published...
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