DIA eNews
In This Issue
Director's Letter
Mystery Tour
News and Notes
Save the Date

Director's Letter

Graham W.J. Beale, Director 

The exhibition Fabergé: The Rise and Fall opens this month and, as I said in an earlier letter, it's hard for many of us not to associate the name Fabergé with the fate of the company's most enthusiastic customers, the Romanovs, who ruled over a constantly expanding Russian empire for the best part of three centuries. The exhibition is made up of about 250 exquisite objects, some of ostensible utility (picture frames, parasol handles) but mostly objects to be looked and marveled at for their extraordinary craftsmanship and costly materials. The collection we are presenting is now part of the holdings of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, but it was put together by a collector at a time when much of Fabergé's production was dismissed as Victorian gewgaws; the diametric opposite of such sleek modernist manifestations as art deco and Bauhaus functionalism. The exception is, of course, the famous Easter eggs commissioned each year by the last imperial family of Nicholas II and his consort, Alexandra. Our exhibition looks at the way a consummate designer, who was also a savvy businessman with stores across Europe, ultimately found the fate of his business tied to circumstances over which he had no control. (There are a number of good books dealing with the history of Russia, but to get an idea of Nicholas II's character, I recommend Miranda Carter's George, Nicholas, and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I. Here you encounter a character who was so conservative that his cousins, King George and Kaiser Wilhelm--themselves seriously conservative--remarked on how very hide-bound Nicholas was.)

DFT Stairs 

Over the summer, we have been carrying out extensive but badly needed repairs and renovations to the building. Replacing the roof (which actually started last year), fixing problems with the west-facing retaining walls, and (finally!) restoring the Detroit Film Theatre stairs on the John R façade. The stairs were the notable remaining item on the Master Plan list for the renovations largely completed five years ago. One of the reasons for the delay was that the stair problems were linked to water damage in the theater's lower level. This rarely visited public space comprises, among other things, a large lounge area, modernized restrooms, and dressing rooms for performers. I can think of a couple of ways of making the lounge more alluring, but any such project triggers the need for wheelchair access and with the way the architect designed the space, that's a tough one. The most immediate effect of the sparkling "new" stairs is to highlight the need for cleaning the rest of the 1927 building. And so it goes on. The DIA's structure is a costly one and needs constant attention, but I'm glad to say that all of the above mentioned projects were funded by federal and state grants for capital projects. We have also installed Wi-Fi throughout the building and will soon have a public address system operational that will allow us to inform visitors of imminent public tours, lectures, film showings, and other events, as well as alerting people to false fire alarms and other building concerns.

Graham Beal Signature
Graham W. J. Beal

Back to top 

Peter the Great Egg


fabergeFabergé: The Rise and Fall
The Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

October 14, 2012-January 21, 2013
Special Exhibitions South

The more than 200 precious objects in this exhibition trace Karl Fabergé's rise to fame, highlighting his business savvy, artistic innovations, and privileged relationship with the Russian aristocracy. The House of Fabergé made treasures for the tsar and tsarina, their family, and other aristocrats, including jewel-encrusted parasol and cane handles, an array of enameled frames, animals carved from semi-precious stones, and miniature egg pendants. Despite the firm's abrupt end in 1918, at the time of the Russian Revolution, the name of Fabergé continues to hold a place in popular culture.

Exhibition curator Yao-Fen You explores Fabergé's legacy, from its illustrious imperial past to its descent into kitsch and popular culture, in lectures for members' only (October 12, 6 p.m. and October 13, 1 p.m.) and the general public (October 14, 2 p.m.) All lectures are in the DFT Auditorium. Click here for information on a related film series.

Member preview days are Friday, October 12 from noon until 10 p.m., and Saturday, October 13, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, a members' only evening is scheduled from 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, November 29. Members receive free admission to the exhibition, but complimentary reserved, timed tickets are necessary. Tickets for the public are $15 for adults, $8 for children ages 6 to 17. All tickets are available at the DIA Box Office, online at www.dia.org, or by calling 3313.833.4005. There is no handling or service fee when ordering members' tickets. For more information, call the Membership HelpLine at 313.833.7971.

The exhibition is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in collaboration with the Detroit Institute of Arts. In Detroit, the exhibition is supported by the City of Detroit. Educational programming is provided by the GM Foundation.

GM Foundation

Above: Karl Fabergé, workmaster Mikhail Perkhin; Imperial Peter the Great Easter Egg, 1903; gold, platinum, diamond, ruby, enamel, bronze, sapphire, watercolor, ivory, rock crystal.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt (photo: Katherine Wetzel. © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)

Back to top

picassomatissePicasso and Matisse
The DIA's Prints and Drawings

Through January 6, 2013
Schwartz Galleries of Prints and Drawings

Bather By The Sea 
Still Life with Fruit and Flowers 

Top: Pablo Picasso, Spanish; Bather by the Sea, 1939; gouache. Bequest of Robert H. Tannahill. © 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York  

Henri Matisse, French; Still Life with Fruit and Flowers, 1947; brush and ink. Gift of Robert H. Tannahill. © 2012 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Robert H. Tannahill (1893-1969) ranks as one of the most generous donors to the DIA. He gave approximately 475 works of art as well as major financial assistance during his lifetime, and his 1970 bequest brought an additional 557 works to the museum, as well as what is still the largest restricted art acquisition fund given to the DIA. His name appears in some fashion on masterpieces by major impressionist, postimpressionist, and modern artists. The prints and drawings in this exhibit are no exception.

In 1960, Tannahill gave the DIA the book version and full suite of etchings of Picasso's Le Chef d'oeuvre inconnu (The Unknown Masterpiece). Picasso's Bather by the Sea is a monumental gouache of 1939, part of the Tannahill bequest, as are some of Picasso's earliest subjects, such as the pen-and-ink wash Meal of Destitute from 1903/04 and two pencil drawings of simplified figures from 1919/20.

Tannahill did not ignore Matisse. He gave the museum that artist's commanding Still Life with Fruit and Flowers, a large-scale brush-and-ink drawing with strong delineation of the subject.

The Picasso and Matisse oil paintings that came to the DIA through Tannahill's beneficence are on view in the second-floor modern art galleries.

Exhibition curator Nancy Sojka elaborates on how a small number of Detroit collectors, including Tannahill, shaped the DIA's holdings of Picasso and Matisse on Thursday, October 11, at 6:30 p.m. For more insights into the exhibition, see Sojka's postings on the DIA blog.

This exhibition has been organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Support has been provided by Comerica Bank. Additional support has been provided by the City of Detroit.

Comerica Bank

Back to top

DFTDetroit Film Theatre


Silent-film lovers have numerous opportunities to indulge their passion with the return of the Alloy Orchestra and a series of rare Russian films made between 1910 and 1918, shown in conjunction with the exhibition Fabergé: The Rise and Fall. Boston's Alloy Orchestra accompanies several films with its unique blend of instrumentation October 5, 6, and 7. Among the films are the premiere of the restored 1924 Russian film The Overcoat (Shinel) and the recently restored, definitive version of Fritz Lang's 1925 science-fiction epic Metropolis (above). The Friday, October 5, showing of The Overcoat is free with museum admission.Tsar 

The Revolutionary 

Twilight of the Tsars: The Revolutionary


Twilight of the Tsars, a series presented on six Thursday evenings beginning on October 11, includes feature-length and short films, as well as some fascinating surviving fragments from early Russian cinema. Taken together, they form a living portrait of Russia at the end of the tsarist era, up until the revolution, the same time period explored in the Fabergé exhibition. All Twilight of the Tsars programs feature live piano accompaniment.

Shakespeare takes the DFT stage with a showing of Twelfth Night, filmed live at a 2011 performance of the play at Ontario's Stratford Shakespeare Festival. There is only one showing of the film, Sunday, October 14, at 3:30 p.m. Also only being screened once is Somewhere to Disappear, a documentary about photographer Alec Soth's project to vanish, playing Thursday, October 25, at 7 p.m. Soth will discuss his art and answer audience questions after the film.

One last note: as a special benefit, DIA members receive free admission to the six remaining Saturday showings of The Story of Film: An Odyssey, an epic journey through the history of world cinema.

For more information on these films and the rest of the fall schedule, click here.

The DFT is presented by Buddy's Pizza.

Back to top

mysterytourMystery Tour

Museum Mystery Tour 

The popular Museum Mystery Tours return in time for Halloween, with opportunities to explore the artists whose works haunt the American, European, and contemporary art galleries. Follow the trail in the printed map to spaces featuring eerie lighting, sounds in the dark, and secret-spilling guides. It's fun and family friendly, so bring the kids, ages five and older. Costumes are strongly encouraged. Information and self-guided maps are available at the Mystery Tour desk in Prentis Court. Tours are available Friday, October 26, from 6 to 9:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, October 27 and 28, from 1 to 4:30 p.m.

Also on the schedule for Halloween is the Aerial Angels' Ghost Circus on Friday, October 26. The high-flying Angels take off at 7 p.m., conjuring up their dark side in a special Creepfest featuring feats on the aerial hoop and aerial silk, including acrobatics, fire eating, and crack bullwhip target taking.

Back to top



The DIA hosts five electrifying installations indoors and out as part of DLECTRICITY, a new festival featuring artists who "light up" buildings and city spaces to turn Midtown Detroit into a sea of light. On the northwest lawn, look for StereoNegative--A Tribute to Tony Smith (left), an exploration of geometrically constructed architectural space, next to that artist's monumental Gracehoper. Two remote-controlled mobile robots interact with the audience on the Woodward Plaza. Other light-filled installations can be found on the south lawn and by the John R loggia, near the entrance to the DFT Auditorium.

Inside, the action moves to Prentis Court with two shadow-puppet plays, one that explores the myths surrounding the Hindu goddess Kali and the other the Russian fairy tale Yaga Baba. Shows are 8 and 10 p.m. All DLECTRICITY events are free. For the shadow-puppet performance Friday at 10 p.m. and both shows on Saturday, enter through the Loggia doors off John R. Only Prentis Court will be open; there will be no access to other galleries.

For more on the DIA events and a full DLECTRICITY schedule, click here.

Back to top

newsNews and Notes

Where Did it Go?

The German expressionism galleries on the second floor are temporarily closed as the works are packed for an exhibition at the Frist Center in Nashville through February 13. While these galleries are closed, please enter the African American suite through the surrealism gallery.


Director Graham Beal looks at the multiple purposes and perspectives of Diego Rivera's DIA mural masterpiece in "From Eyesore and Epiphany to Elegance and Elegy: Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry" in Ann Arbor on Thursday, October 11. He also discusses how individual works of art, conceived as being rare and singular, retain their power as visual objects when confronted with increasingly sophisticated reproduction techniques.

The lecture is at 7 p.m. at the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Click here for directions.

More Reciprocal Museums

Through the North American Reciprocal Museum program (NARM), free admission to museums as far afield as Mexico, El Salvador, and Canada, or as close as Ann Arbor's Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, is available to DIA members at the affiliate level and above. To take advantage of reciprocal privileges, just present you DIA membership card and the sleeve bearing the gold NARM sticker, along with your personal identification to receive free admission to the participating 639 North American museums and attractions.

Click here to see the complete list. Not an affiliate member? Click here for more information.

Back to top

galaSave The Date

Faberge Egg Pendant 

Fabergé, workmaster: Mikhail Perkhin, Miniature Easter Egg Pendant; chalcedony, gold, diamonds. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt. Photo: Travis Fullerton. © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts


This year's DIA gala, Saturday, November 10, takes its theme from Fabergé: The Rise and Fall, paying tribute to the ingenuity of Karl Fabergé, jeweler to the tsars. Inspired by the exhibition's dazzling objects, the gala features an alluring array of culinary delights, opulent surprises, and exciting entertainment reminiscent of imperial Russia but with modern touches. All proceeds from the event support museum programming, including exhibitions, lectures, performances, student tours, and community outreach. Call 313.833.7967 for ticket information.

Back to top

Detroit Institute of Arts
5200 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48202

Comments or questions about the newsletter? Please contact us: comments@dia.org 

$8 adults, $6 seniors, $4 children
The museum is free for members and residents of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties
Contact the Membership HelpLine at
313.833.7971 or membership@dia.org 

For group sales (15 or more) contact 313.833.1292 or dia.org/grouptours 

Call 313.833.1925 or

Wed, Thur 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Fri 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sat, Sun 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Valet parking is available at the Farnsworth entrance on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, during regular museum hours. The price per car is $10.

Lighted, secure self-parking is available in the Cultural Center parking lot, between John R and Brush, behind the museum.

Ford Free Second Sundays are generously supported by the Ford Motor Company Fund. Next Ford Free Sunday, October 14.

Wed, Thur 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Fri 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-9 p.m.
Sat, Sun 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Kresge Court Coffee Stop
Wed, Thur 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Fri-Sun 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Museum Shop
313.833.7944 or museumshop@dia.org
Open during museum hours or online at dia.shop.org 

Connect with us!

Keep up-to-date with text messages about upcoming DIA events! Sign-up here.

Facebook   YouTube   Flickr Twitter   Proud to be located in Midtown Detroit

Become a Member 

Make a Donation