Highlights from the Detroit Arts Scene: Part I

Posted on March 2, 2012 by

A blog post by Senior Collections Manager, Jobi Zink

 

This week I went to Detroit, Michigan for the Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM) conference.  I’ll be honest. I didn’t want to go. After all it was Detroit in February. I was expecting 3 feet of snow on the ground, whipping wind, gangs, abandoned houses, and open drug trade.

Axel Foley (character in Beverly Hills Cop), Rapper Eminem and the movie 8 Mile did not leave an overwhelmingly positive impression of Detroit.

After 4 days of touring museumsin the city and suburbs, my opinions have greatly changed! Mother Nature cooperating with 40 degree days certainly helped, but the arts scene was truly impressive.

It isn’t a trip to Detroit without some Motown.

The Cranbrook Art Museum is on a 175-acre campus. The museum just underwent a $22 million dollar renovation—I couldn’t wait to check it out! http:///www.cranbrookart.edu/museum/

Eliel Saarinen designed the museum in 1942. The sculpture and ponds seem like a natural extension of the building.

Rachel, Elena &LeighAnn relax on a bench in front of a Sol LeWitt mural, part of No Object Is an Island: New Dialogues with the Cranbrook Collection.

The Henry Ford Museum was another enormous facility—the galleries alone are 3 acres, and then there is Greenfield Village and the factory. We only had one hour to tour the exhibitions before sessions began on Monday morning. http:///www.thehenryford.org/

The “exploded” Model T allows visitors to see how the car is assembled, even without visiting the factory.

While many visitors are awestruck by the John F. Kennedy Limousine, I was charmed by Teddy Roosevelt’s Presidential horse-drawn carriage.

It was very powerful to hear the recorded testimony of Rosa Parks about why she didn’t move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, AL in 1955 while I sat in the very seat in the second row that she refused to vacate.

The “With Liberty and Justice for All” exhibition had the chair in which Abraham Lincoln was sitting when he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at the Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC in April 1865.

Someone was working on one of the giant engines in the collection.

E.T. would have his choice of phones. While I didn’t see many cordless phones from the 1990s, the Iphone 4S is on display in the lower left corner.

Model kitchen from the 1930s made me think of the Chosen Food exhibition, as did the model kitchen at the Arab American National Museum.

The dome above a fountain in the lobby and mosaic in the hallway of the Arab American National Museum. http:///arabamericanmuseum.org/

No one from the CAJM contingency was surprised that there were suitcases at the beginning of the main exhibition, “Coming to America.”

The empty case was a powerful reflection of a refugees account, “we brought nothing with us.”

Docent Guy Stern, who just turned 90, gave us a personal tour complete with anecdotes of the “Ritchie Boys” exhibit that he curated at the Holocaust Memorial Center. www.holocaustcenter.org

Check back on Monday for Part II!

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