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Building Additions, Detroit’s Decline, and State Rescue

In: Valuing Detroit’s Art Museum


  • Jeffrey Abt

    (Wayne State University)


The Founders Society’s involvement in museum affairs continued to grow well beyond buying art and as its activities expanded it began to hire ever more employees. To supervise them the Society appointed its first full-time executive in 1960, a step that enabled the Society to articulate and pursue its goals more efficiently. But in doing so with a privately paid staff working in the museum alongside city-paid staff, the change fostered confusion about lines of authority and spheres of responsibility. An instance arose after a Flemish art exhibition in the late 1960 when Richardson recommended to the mayor continuation of a public relations arrangement that successfully promoted it. The city had appropriated special funds for a temporary museum publicist who liaised with Detroit’s public relations staff, and the Society matched the appropriation, on a nearly three-dollars-to-one basis, to amplify the exhibit’s advertising. Following its successful conclusion, the Society established a permanent Department of Communications to continue the marketing and public relations efforts used for the exhibit. To fully fund the department, however, Richardson wanted the mayor to make that special allocation permanent. He explained the Society’s contribution—about three-quarters of the department’s proposed budget—would pay for the department’s director and advertising expenses; the city’s contribution would be for a secretary.1

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey Abt, 2017. "Building Additions, Detroit’s Decline, and State Rescue," Palgrave Studies in American Economic History, in: Valuing Detroit’s Art Museum, chapter 0, pages 83-119, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:psichp:978-3-319-45219-7_3
    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-45219-7_3

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