Detroit Institute of Arts: Most Popular Works

  • Detroit Industry

    The Detroit Institute of Arts' vast collection has some undeniable visitor favorites. The series of murals entitled Detroit Industry, by Mexican artist Diego Riviera, is 27 panels depicting laborers at the Ford Motor Company. The murals were considered Marxist propaganda by some critics in 1932 and 1933, when they were painted.

    Photo courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts /

  • Self Portrait

    Founded in 1885, the Detroit Institute of Arts has been one of the city's top cultural attractions for more than a century.  Self Portrait, one of Vincent Van Gogh's most recognizable works, was the first of the artist's paintings to be acquired by a US museum. Van Gogh painted his self portrait during a stay in Paris in the summer of 1887.

    Photo courtesy of Self Portrait, Vincent Willem van Gogh, 1887, oil on artist board, mounted to wood panel. Detroit Institute of Arts

  • Reading the Story Of Oenone

    With more than 100 galleries spread across 658,000 square feet, the DIA houses one of the nation's top collections of art.   The public's fascination with the Titanic makes this 1883 work by Titanic victim Francis David Millet a hit.  It's title Reading the Story of Oenone.

    Photo courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts /

  • The Nut Gatherers

    A favorite with young visitors to the museum, The Nut Gatherers – an 1882 oil painting on canvas by William Adolphe Bouguereau --is a best-seller in museum shop reproductions.

    Photo courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts /

  • The Nightmare

    The Nightmare – the most famous work by Anglo-Swiss painter Henry Fuseli – depicts both a woman having a nightmare and the contents of her dream as well. Critics at the time considered the painting scandalous due to its overtly sexual themes.

    Photo courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts /

  • Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket

    The 1875 painting Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket is perhaps most famous for the controversy surrounding it. Art critic John Ruskin accused the painting by James Abbott McNeill Whistler as being a public insult, which caused a devaluation in Whistler's works. The artist then sued Ruskin for libel, where he won a single farthing that he had to split with the art critic. The trail bankrupted him.

    Photo courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts /

  • Ellen's Isle, Loch Katrine

    Robert S. Duncanson, the man behind Ellen’s Isle, Loch Katrine, was one of the first African American painters of the 19th century. The oil on canvas work was painted in 1871 and is one of several Duncanson works on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

    Photo courtesy of Ellen's Isle, Loch Katrine, Robert S. Duncanson, 1871, oil on canvas. Detroit Institute of Arts

  • The Window

    Acquired in 1922, The Window was the first painting by Henri Matisse in a US museum collection. Matisse painted the still life in 1916, and in a letter, he wrote about the painting: ""Through the window of the drawing room one sees the green of the garden and a black tree trunk, a basket of forget-me-nots on the table, a garden chair and a rug."

    Photo courtesy of The Window, Henri Matisse, 1916, oil on canvas. Detroit Institute of Arts

  • Crystal Gallery

    Architecture of the DIA

    Fashioned after the Beaux Arts style of European house museums, the building that houses the Detroit Institute of Arts on Woodward Avenue was designed by French-American architect Paul Philippe Cret. Some of his other notable works include the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia and the Duke Ellington Bridge in Washington, DC.

    Photo courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts /

  • The Detroit Institute of Arts

    The DIA is in the news due to Detroit's financial woes.  Christie's auction house estimates city-bought museum assets between $452 and $866 million in value, precisely why cash-strapped Detroit is seeing its beloved institution with new eyes.  Other museum assets - both publicly funded and donated - bring the total asset value much higher.

    Photo courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts /