MACKINAC ISLAND (WWJ/AP) – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says he hopes Detroit’s financial crisis doesn’t force emergency manager Kevyn Orr to sell off items from the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Orr has said he’s looking into all assets, and the DIA’s collection could potentially face sale if Detroit seeks bankruptcy protection.

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Interviewed at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual policy conference on Mackinac Island, Snyder told the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News he won’t rule out a sale of the museum’s collection. The museum opened in 1885 and has more than 60,000 artworks.

Snyder said that the DIA is “important to the livelihood of the city” and that “the goal is not to sell the assets of the DIA in a wholesale fashion.”

The city owns the Detroit Institute of Arts’ building and collection, while daily operations are overseen by a nonprofit.

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In a statement issued last week, DIA officials said they believe the museum and the city hold the DIA’s art collection in trust for the public. “The DIA manages and cares for that collection according to exacting standards required by the public trust, our profession and the Operating Agreement with the City. According to those standards, the City cannot sell art to generate funds for any purpose other than to enhance the collection … ” (Read more).

The scope of Orr’s power as an emergency manager to sell the collection or any other major assets, such as the city’s water department, likely would be tested in court.

Snyder put Orr in charge of Detroit’s finances because of persistent deficits and a long-term debt of $14 billion.

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