Art of finance 

Financial news for the Detroit Institute of Arts has been unusually positive as of late. An unprecedented donation totaling $50 million from three local philanthropists in April and the likelihood of a $35 million grant from the state last month were welcome news.

But if a recent assessment of the museum’s financial situation is correct, those jaw-dropping sums still fall far short of the cash infusion needed to put the DIA on a sound financial footing.

Jeffery Abt, a professor in Wayne State University’s department of art and art history, researched the history of funding and found that the DIA from its earliest years relied too heavily on government financing.

The formal transfer of fiscal responsibility to the Detroit Founders Society in 1998 highlighted the dilemma.

"The DIA is sailing in uncharted waters," Abt wrote in his report, published by the university’s College of Urban, Labor and Metropolitan Affairs. "No American museum of comparable size has attempted to shift the burden of such a large percentage of its operating costs from public treasuries to the private sector as the DIA has done since 1991."

"While the DIA’s operating endowment has grown in the past few years, it is $200-300 million short (depending on how future needs are projected) of the necessary size to yield sufficient annual revenues for a buffer against sudden changes in public or private support."

A $200 million endowment, Abt explained, would yield about $9 million in annual income according to most standard endowment investment formulas.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Most Popular

Read the Digital Print Issue

Sept. 15, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation