The Art of Reconciliation: The Influence of the Black Community on the Detroit Institute of Arts

Name: Jillian Madeleine Kouayara
Major: Art History
Advisor: Dr. Kara Morrow and Dr. John Siewart (second reader)
Museums were created with a Eurocentric narrative that excluded the Black community from the space up until the twenty-first century. Now, the relationship between the museum and the community has shifted, urging for change in museums leadership, and accessibility. This thesis argues the positionality of the Detroit Institute of Arts, a foundationally White institution, in the predominantly Black city of Detroit. While museums across the country are learning to adapt to a new generation of museum goers, theDIAs history within Detroit suggests a more pressing need to serve their community. Therefore, it is essential to examine the nations shifting demographics, as well as Detroit’s, in order to understand the needs of the institution’s future audience. By analyzing the DIA from a theoretical approach, and other literature that discusses race within cultural institution’s, I argue that the museum’s positionality is informed by racism and bias within the museum’s leadership and various practices that could continue to hinder the museums sustainability as a primary source of cultural information.

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Posted in I.S. Symposium 2021, Independent Study on April 10, 2021.