DETROIT (WWJ) – A top state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would prevent the sale of the Detroit Institute of Art’s collection if the city goes into bankruptcy.
The bill, sponsored by Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe,was introduced following reports last week that the DIA’s art is at risk if Detroit files for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.
Talking to WWJ Newsradio 950, DIA director Graham Beal said he knew a proposal to protect the museum’s art was coming.
Beal said the sale would violate the public trust that allowed the museum to collect the art.
“The effect of that — and in some states there is law, I believe — that something held in the public trust cannot be liquidated,” Beal said.
Beal stressed that a plan to sell off the DIA’s art is not yet on the table, and that he was told by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr only that the collection could be “vulnerable”.
Asked if he was surprised that the proposal came from the GOP — being that Republican Gov. Rick Snyder was the one who appointed Orr — Beal said, not at all.
“My experience as an art museum director is that love of art … doesn’t line up on either side of the political aisle,” Beal said.
As for whether Richardson’s plan will gather support, Beal said he has no idea. He’s just hopeful Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr will not threaten the collection.
Interviewed the day before at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual policy conference on Mackinac Island, Snyder said he won’t rule out a sale of the museum’s collection — although he, too, hopes it won’t come to that.
The museum opened in 1885 and has more than 60,000 artworks.