The Detroit Institute of Arts celebrates 70 years of American automotive style

Courtesy DIA/Collection of Robert L. Edwards and Julie Hyde-Edwards

Mere mention of Woodward Avenue accelerates the heart rate of enthusiasts itching to burn rubber and speed shift their way through Detroit’s northern ‘burbs. Unfortunately, traffic lights are still flashing yellow on the hallowed Dream Cruise route because of the pandemic. Fortunately, we have this side trip to recommend: a visit to the Detroit Institute of Arts at 5200 Woodward Avenue, three miles due north of the Detroit River.

Through June of 2021, DIA is proudly hosting Detroit Style—Car Design in the Motor City, 1950–2020, consisting of a dozen remarkable concept and production cars supplemented by paintings and sculptures created by local artists. One show star is GM’s 1959 Stingray Racer which inspired second-generation Corvette design. To awe Ford fans, the 1956 atomic-powered Nucleon is here along with its modern counterpart, the 2017 Ford GT. Mopar enthusiasts will relish the 1970 Hemi Barracuda flaunting its muscle.

According to DIA Director Salvador Salort-Pons, “The automotive industry and the city of Detroit are synonymous with one another, so it seems only fitting that the DIA be the museum to showcase the rich history car design in the city. This exhibition will showcase the similarities between the art of car design and the creative process sculptors of the past used to create their masterpieces.” Exhibition curator Ben Colman adds, “It is a privilege to share some of the stories of the Detroit designers who transformed the modern world with their work.”

The Beaux-Arts Italian Renaissance style DIA museum was built nearly a century ago using white marble for the exterior. Two black granite expansion wings were added later. This 100 gallery, 658,000 square foot facility houses 65,000 works of art worth over $8 billion. The Encyclopedia Britannica called the DIA “the perfect modern art museum.” Whether your personal tastes lean toward Rembrandt, Degas, Cezanne, Van Gogh, or Picasso, you will receive an exceptional art fix here, in addition to a steady diet of automotive fodder courtesy of Rivera’s Detroit Industry Murals.

Admission is free for those residing in one of the three counties surrounding Detroit. Everyone else must purchase a $6-14 ticket. Reservations are required. To schedule your access day and time, visit the DIA website at

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