US Automakers Pledge $26 Million to Save Detroit Institute of Arts

Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Photo: Benjamin Sutton.

As previously rumored, the Detroit auto industry is standing by the embattled Detroit Institute of Arts, pledging $26 million toward the “Grand Bargain” devised by emergency city manager Kevyn Orr to protect the museum’s collection from being sold and help minimize cuts to city pensions, reports the Detroit Free Press.

The big three, Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors, held a news conference Monday morning at the museum’s Rivera Court, which contains the famed “Detroit Industry” murals by Diego Rivera (recently designated a national landmark).

“This money is intended to help the Motor City get back on its feet again,” said Chrysler executive Reid Bigland. “This is really about being a contributor and working with those who are also committed to revitalizing this city.”

To fulfill their end of the Grand Bargain, the DIA is expected to contribute some $100 million toward a total $820 million that will be put toward city pension funds. In exchange, the museum’s ownership will be transferred from the city to an independent charitable trust, freeing it from the demands of city creditors, who are currently having the collection reappraised.

The automakers’ contributions will help defray that cost considerably, with $6 million from Chrysler and $10 million each from Ford and General Motors. The museum has already announced that an additional $7.5 million was raised separately. DIA director Graham Beal has been in talks with other major corporations and estimates that the institution has commitments for between 60 and 70 percent of the total.

Last week, the Michigan state legislature approved $195 million in state funds to be put toward the bargain (see artnet News report). Retirees have until July 11 to approve the plan, or pension funds will be slashed 27 percent. Judge Steven Rhodes must also confirm the bankruptcy plan of adjustment, which centers around the Grand Bargain, at a trial that will be held later this summer.

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