By: Stan Simek for Advancing Macomb
Great emphasis is placed on the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) marvelous collection of art. But not enough emphasis is placed on the building itself and how to best view the art. The museum can be an intimidating and confusing place. It doesn’t have to be like that for your visit. The late architect Michael Graves created a better flow for museum visitors by creating a first and second floor corridor and redesigning the interior of the museum.
Graves’ designs have made it very easy to navigate the DIA. When you enter the building through the Farnsworth Street entrance turn left and you are at the south end of the corridor near the donor wall. The museum refers to these long corridors as the Promenade. If you look all the way down to the end of the corridor you will see the north end of the building. Use this corridor as your reference point. Walk down the corridor and on your right is the Native American Art. Further down on your left is the Prints and Drawings Gallery, beyond that is the Romanesque Gallery and Kresge Court. Continue down the corridor you will find Café DIA on your right. Across from Café DIA is the Middle East and Puppet Gallery. Continue down the corridor and you will find the Egyptian gallery on your left and the African and Islamic galleries are on your right. At the end of the corridor is the Asian gallery. That’s where you will find the stairway.
Go up the stairs to the second floor. There is another long corridor that heads south toward Farnsworth. Contemporary and Modern Art is on your left and further down you will find the American Gallery on your right. Just before you reach Rivera Court the gallery on the left houses the Van Gogh paintings. Across from Rivera Court is the Great Hall where the medieval armor is displayed. Continue down the corridor the European Medieval art is on the right and the Italian art will be on the left. You are now back at the south end of the building. Take the stairs up to the third floor. There are only galleries on the south end of the museum. Congratulations you have finished your tour! And… It gets easier with each visit.
If you would like to navigate before you go, take a look at the museum map