The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is currently putting the finishing touches on its construction project which began in 2001. On 23 November the museum will reopen to the public, bringing its collection to life in new and exciting ways. When completed, the building will have extensive infrastructure upgrades, increased gallery space, expanded visitor amenities, an improved traffic pattern throughout the museum, and a new façade on the North and South wings.
The new DIA officially opens its doors to the public on 23 November 2007 with a weekend of activities. Admission is free and there will be something for everyone – from families to night owls, including some special late-night features. Members of the DIA are invited to three member preview days on 16-18 November 2007.
From the museum website
The purpose of the renovation project was to make essential improvements to the aging infrastructure of the museum and provide improved amenities for museum visitors. What occurred during the course of this effort was the realization that some 6,000 objects would need to be reinstalled in 152,000 square feet of space. This created the singular opportunity to reflect upon the museum’s purpose and relevance to the community, and resulted in exciting new plans for reinstalling the galleries.
Reinstallation planning is being conducted by interdisciplinary teams of curators, educators, and other museum professionals who draw on the advice of experts from around the world as well as receiving input from visitor research. The goal is to help visitors make connections across cultures and eras, and to tell the great stories of art and human expression from around the world. The focus will always be on the objects, with the installations providing context and other information to help explain why a particular work of art looks the way it does.
Galleries will be arranged in a variety of ways—thematically, culturally or chronologically. A theme in one of the African galleries might be art used during rites-of-passage ceremonies, such as birth, coming-of-age, marriage and death. One connection a visitor might be encouraged to make would be to compare and contrast the objects to those used in their own cultural ceremonies. Visitor research indicates that finding a personal connection with an object results in a deeper, more meaningful experience and encourages further exploration and repeat visitation.
Through extensive visitor research, including focus groups, surveys, and gallery observations, it has become clear that visitors want more social interaction and new opportunities to learn about and engage with the art. To accomplish this, the DIA also has a team developing new interactive activities, including touch-screens, flip labels, hand-held computers, and self-guided audio tours that will supplement traditional labels.
We are excited to have combined the enormous task of the building project with the unprecedented opportunity to reshape the visitor experience and to keep the DIA vital and relevant to contemporary visitors.
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