The Henry Ford, Greenfield Village & the Detroit Institute of Arts

A tour in this house demonstrated to us what a visionary Buckminster Fuller was. His groundbreaking ideas of affordable and environmentally sustainable lodging are not even close to being implemented today. Some people are just way ahead of their time.

Living room of the Dymaxion House


After exploring the indoor portion of the Henry Ford we headed outside on this gorgeous late October afternoon. Greenfield Village is the largest outdoor museum in America and covers a total of 240 acres. Almost 100 historical buildings were moved here to show how Americans used to live. Houses date all the way from the 17th century to the present, and streetscapes are livened up by costumed interpreters who demonstrate activities such as glass-blowing, pottery and other crafts.

Model Ts entertain the crowds


Greenfield Village is particularly popular with families since it offers rides in a horse-drawn omnibus as well as in authentic Ford Model Ts. Authentic vehicles from the 1910s and 1920s were chugging around all over the place, giving happy visitors a ride. A steam locomotive also takes visitors around the property, and a carousel entertains the little ones. The surrounding environment is bucolic and includes forests, rivers and pastures for sheep and horses.

A great place for children


Around 2 pm we started our drive back into the city since we wanted to explore another Detroit institution: the Detroit Institute of Arts. In 2003 the DIA was ranked as the second-largest municipally owned museum in the United States, and its collections are valued at more than one billion dollars.

The Detroit Institute of Arts


The DIA underwent a major renovation and expansion in 2007, and 77,000 square feet (over 7000 m2) were added to the existing 677,000 square feet (about 63,000 m2). We went on an organized tour with museum volunteer Barbara Goldstein who started us off in the extensive African and Asian collections on the lower level. Level 1 also holds Egyptian, Islamic, Native American art as well as photography, prints and drawings.

“The Thinker”


We then moved upstairs to see contemporary African American artists, German expressionists, and other early 20th century works. The museum’s holdings include works by Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh, Auguste Rodin, Franz Marc, Oskar Kokoschka, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso and many other prominent artists. Frescos by Diego Rivera entitled “Detroit Industry” surround the center of the museum.

Interior view of the DIA


The Detroit Institute of Arts is also the location of the Detroit Film Theatre and currently features a special exhibition entitled “Monet to Dali”, a collection of Modern Masters from the Cleveland Museum of Art. With its 65,000 works it is a huge complex of art that spans the globe. Visually enriched yet physically famished, we decided to check out the café on the lower level and enjoyed a delicious soup and chilli.

The DIA has an extensive modern art collection


Following our visit to the DIA we stayed right in the area: two blocks north is the Inn on Ferry Street – a complex of six historic buildings which includes four large Victorian mansions and two carriage houses that encompass 40 luxurious guest rooms. This would be my home for the next two days. Pleasantly exhausted from three days of discoveries I stayed in my luxurious two-bedroom suite and did some web-based research via the inn’s complimentary Internet connection. Tomorrow would be another big day for discoveries in Detroit.

It also has a large collection of African-American art

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