Michigan’s Art Scene Combines Culture with Contemporary

Painters, designers, sculptors and sketch artists are only a few of the types of creatives you can find throughout Michigan’s vibrant art scene. Among these artists, musicians, photographers, graphic artists, and a variety of other craftsman contribute to Michigan’s growing culture. Every year, there are art festivals and craft shows in nearly every town, including Grand Rapids’ famous ArtPrize in which the city turns into a museum with art venues showcasing work from all over the world.

Artistic expression is not difficult to find in Michigan, whether it’s traditional or contemporary. Almost every city has at least one art museum to explore. If you ever feel inspired to appreciate the creative work of others, check out these amazing Michigan art museums. You might find that they all seem to have a common trend.

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum – East Lansing, Michigan

The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum on MSU’s campus. | Photo by Barton Marlow Company

Among the 20th century style architecture that exists on Michigan State University’s campus sits a very reflective, jagged building showcasing beautiful contemporary art. The building (often referred to as a spaceship or a shark based on its abnormal structure) was built and designed by architect Zaha Hadid. In her work, she experiments with modern design using special concepts and visual aesthetics, which is very prevalent in the building’s interior and exterior layouts.

Because the building resembles a futuristic design, it’s also being featured in an upcoming Warner Bros. film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as the home of villain Lex Luthor. You can catch several glimpses of the exotic museum the Batman v Superman trailer.

Though the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum’s architecture contrasts with MSU’s inherent building designs on its northern part of campus, the museum has fit in nicely since its construction in 2012. It creates a modern vibe in a long-established collegiate setting.

The contemporary art museum has rotating exhibits, many of which feature cultural interpretations and conceptual works. You’ll find while visiting that much of its cultural collection spans from ancient Greece, Rome, pre-Columbian and Renaissance art. The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum seems to focus more on an abstract collection, though many of their exhibits range from representational to non-objective art. You can see the museum’s current and past exhibits here.

Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts – Grand Rapids, Michigan

The concrete floors and floating steel stairs inside the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) welcome you to yet another modern art museum in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. UICA transforms into one of the many venues for ArtPrize each year and showcases inspiring works in the form of visual, film, literature, and performance art year-round.

For more than 36 years, UICA has been representing contemporary art in West Michigan, bringing visually aesthetic works and performance pieces to life. UICA also offers a summer art programs called The ArtWorks for students interested in pursuing a career in the studio arts, design, museum studies or art education.

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts – Kalamazoo, Michigan

KIA Glass Chandelier

KIA’s signature glass chandelier above the foyer. | Photo by KIA

Established in 1924, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA) was meant to further develop the interest and education for an appreciation of the arts. Right when you step through the front entrance, you’ll find a colorful 400-piece chandelier made entirely of blown glass in the lobby foyer. The art facility contains studio classrooms, a library, an auditorium, exhibition rooms and a sculpture garden. There is also a gallery shop and an interactive gallery for children.

KIA includes more than 4,000 pieces. Much of its collection features cultural and abstract works that focus primarily on American paintings, sculptures and ceramics. The art museum also feature their own students’ work from surrounding school districts.

Detroit Institute of Arts – Detroit, Michigan

For more than a century, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has been a cultural gem. The museum includes more than 100 art galleries, a large auditorium, a lecture hall, an art library and a conservation services lab. DIA’s collection is among the top six in the country and is home to many famous pieces, including Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry and Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait.

Unlike many Michigan art museums that have a theme to their collections, one of the DIA’s characteristics is to curate a diverse collection, including, but not limited to: American, European, African, Asian, Oceanic, Native American, African American, Islamic and Ancient art. Additionally, contemporary, traditional, and graphic artworks are also within the collection.

DeVos Art Museum – Marquette, Michigan

On Northern Michigan University’s campus in Marquette, the DeVos Art Museum is not only a collection of artwork but also a place of education for students and faculty on campus as well as K-12 students. There’s more than 1,500 pieces of artwork that DeVos has collected throughout the years from generous donors and gifts as well as purchased pieces.

At DeVos, you can expect to see a wide assortment of works, including wildlife photography, Native American and Japanese art and artifacts, and local and regional contemporary art. This Upper Peninsula museum aims to broaden art education and the understanding of contemporary art as it relates to society for K-12 students, as well as university students through various programs. Take a look at their permanent art collection to learn more.

Featured image by Trish P.