07/25/2013 12:39 pm ET Updated Sep 24, 2013

Should Detroit Sell Its Art? : The New Yorker


The fiscal apocalypse that is Detroit has spun off a collateral storm in the art world with a suggestion that salvific funds--an estimate of two billion dollars is much bandied--could be raised by selling treasures of the Detroit Institute of Arts, one of America's best encyclopedic museums. Having been asked my opinion as an art-lover--and, incidentally, a citizen, though not of Detroit--I have two answers. Here's the short one: sell. The long one, which follows, ends in the same place, only garlanded with regrets.

What is the worth of a municipal museum? Nora Caplan-Bricker, writing in The New Republic, gauged it this way in June: "Every person should have the chance, not just to see art, but to live down the street from it."

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