Exclusive: Touring the Detroit Institute of Art’s Research Library & Archives with Director MARIA KETCHAM!

Exclusive: Touring the Detroit Institute of Art’s Research Library & Archives with Director MARIA KETCHAM!

Detroit Institute of Arts (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is a 134-year old Detroit institution.

Founded in 1885, the DIA relocated to its present location in 1927.

Over 65,000 works of art, subdivided into 100 galleries, are spread throughout the 3-story, 658,000-square foot building, which, being made of white Montclair Danby marble streaked with gray veins from Vermont, exudes a very regal vibe.

Attached to the rear of the DIA is a beautiful 1,100-seat theater called the Detroit Film Theatre (DFT).

I’ve watched dozens of great films here over the years: Breathless, The Killing, Sweet Sweetback, Dolemite, Gimme Danger, etc.

Also behind the DIA, is the best place to park your car, the John R parking lot (5290 John R Street) where you can park all day for only $7.00 per car.

DIA Rodin (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Walking around to the front, you’re greeted by a version of Rodin’s The Thinker, a 12,000-lb. bronze sculpture of a contemplating man lost in rapturous thought, which beautifully sets the tone for your DIA visit.

Once inside, you check in and pay the fee or, thanks to the tri-county millage (property tax), if you live in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb Counties, you can enter for free any time you want.

As you pour yourself into the uniquely shaped cup of the DIA with its vaulted ceilings and mesmerizing sweeps of grandeur, you are immediately absorbed into a quasi-alternate dimension of one of the greatest art museums in the United States.

DIA Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Being at the DIA is very inspiring. You’re surrounded by gorgeous art and this immersion does something positive to your mood, attitude and thoughts.

Waltzing through grand hallways and great rooms, you encounter Egyptian mummies, Hindu sculptures, ancient Sumerian statues made of diorite, William Randolph Hearst’s collection of suits of armor, Diego Rivera’s entire room of Detroit Industry murals, and thousands upon thousands of paintings.

The paintings include Van Gogh’s 1887 Self-Portrait, the first Van Gogh painting ever purchased by an American museum, which the DIA smartly acquired at auction in 1922.

Van Gogh-Self Portrait (1887) DIA

 

DIA Research Library & Archives: 191,000 Volumes on Tap

Maria Ketcham @ DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

In the North Wing, on the 3rd floor, the Kirby Street side, lays one of the hidden gems of the museum, the DIA Research Library & Archives.

I myself was unaware of the existence of this incredible resource until a recent BCD tour, thanks to Frank Castronova, DIA functionary and president of The Book Club of Detroit.

The library is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment-only.

DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

It consists of the lovely Reading Room (open to the public) with its row of skylights and book elevator (aka: 1970’s-era dumbwaiter) & the Mezzanine Stacks (closed to the public), a secret sub-level between floors 2 and 3 where thousands of books are held. People can discover and request materials from the stacks via the online catalog.

I’m here meeting with Maria Ketcham.

She is the Research Library, Archives & Collection Information Director and has graciously agreed to subject herself to a kaleidoscope of questions and give yet another tour.

DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Maria explains:

“Here at the DIA Research Library & Archives, we have 191,000 volumes, 100 journal subscriptions, thousands of bound periodicals and auction catalogs, and 7,000 cubic feet of archival materials.”

“In comparison to other libraries worldwide, about 30% of our collection is considered rare or unique to our institution.”

“Some of our archival holdings include thousands of photographs, blueprints, slides, color transparencies, oral histories, recorded lectures dating back to the 1970s, the business papers of former directors & curators, and an amazing collection of reel to reel recordings of our LINES poetry series (1980-1991) and our Jazz at the Institute series (1977-1987).”

“Our most popular requests are for information on the Diego Rivera Detroit Industry murals, the For Modern Living (1949) Exhibition, and Dragged Mass (1971) Michael Heizer.”

“We also have thousands of Artist Files, which are manila file folders containing news articles, ephemera, small exhibition catalogs, anything less than 30 pages long, about a particular artist and are especially useful for research on local artists. These are in our online catalogue as well as in WorldCat, the world’s largest online network of libraries.”

DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

The Archives serves the museum as a repository for anything DIA-related that has enduring historic value. We’ve begun digitizing some of our archival materials and early DIA Bulletins, exhibition catalogues and finding aids, which can also be found in the DIA Research Library online catalog.”

Some university professors bring their classes here on tours and we also represent at conferences and events.”

“On average, we get about 1,200-1,500 requests per year, mostly via phone or email from all over the world. Many researchers find us via WorldCat. And since this is a noncirculating reference collection, depending on the size of their request, we can often help researchers remotely, such as emailing them scans of relevant materials for their reference.”

“We get visitors from all over the world. We even hosted Japanese royalty when Princess Akiko from Japan visited last summer.  We were very honored that she chose to spend some of her time at the DIA with us in the library.”

Our library is in the top 10 largest museum libraries in the USA. The largest is the Getty Research Institute, which is the Getty Museum library. They have over 1 million books and 100 librarians. Some other large ones are The Met, Philadelphia, and Nelson Atkins.”

 

Quick Biography

Maria Ketcham @ DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

“I’m a native Detroiter. I grew up on the Northwest side near Joy and Southfield. A product of the Detroit Public School system, I attended Renaissance High School, then graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and later a Masters in Library and Information Science with a concentration in Archives.”

“Before coming to the DIA, I was an Archivist for Ford Motor Company. I used to live in the Alden Park Towers on the riverfront for several years. The “new Detroit” has changed drastically since I’ve lived here. It’s exhilarating.”

DIA Detroit

I have a library family. My husband is a librarian at a local public library. My two sisters are also librarians. One is a children’s librarian in California. The other is a senior medical informationist at a university medical school.”

I started working at the DIA in 2001 as the reference librarian. In 2003, I was laid off. Came back in 2005 and I’ve been here ever since.”

“I’m the only full-time employee overseeing the Research Library & Archives. James Hanks is our part-time archivist. We have 2-3 interns at a time, usually grad students in the process of earning their Masters of Information Science.”

The DIA Library is a True Community Resource

DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Being a Librarian and Archivist is all about connecting people with information and being able to manage that information in a way to make it as accessible as possible. We acquire materials, provide access to the public, create indexes and inventories and more. Our mission is preservation for future exploration.”

The DIA has 7 curatorial departments. We support museum staff including curators, conservators, and educators, helping them obtain the research materials they need for their respective research projects.”

“We interface with a lot of people. We get information requests from institutions, artists foundations, big auction houses (Christies and Sotheby’s) about things like exhibition installation photos, fact-checking, etc. We assist where we can with research on artists, exhibition history, and provenance, which is tracing the ownership history of artwork.”

“We frequently get questions from people who have a piece of art they’ve inherited. We might be able to help them with biographical information on the artist and sometimes exhibition history, but we are unable to do valuations. The Appraisers Association of America can direct you to a qualified appraiser near you. There’s also DuMouchelles auction house in Downtown Detroit. These are just a couple of suggestions from the list on our FAQ page

Maria Ketcham @ DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

“Not many people know this but the DIA has about 700 puppets, it’s one of the largest puppet collections in the United States and one of our special collections here at the library is the papers and books of legendary local puppeteer, Paul McPharlin.”

“We also have a collection of Albert Kahn’s personal books. Lawrence Tech has the larger part, which is housed in its own dedicated room at their library.”

“In terms of new acquisitions, we acquire roughly 700-1,000 books per year.”

“We purchase books from a restricted fund. On average, I purchase 10-15% of the books, which are usually recommendations from the curators. The others are donated to us by institutions, private owners, galleries, and other museums.”

“Our older books are still catalogued in Dewey. Everything else is Library of Congress style classification. Our interns help update access to these older books in our collection by conversion cataloging to LoC.”

Maria Ketcham @ DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

“As an example of our books, we have Verdute di Roma (Views of Rome) from the Venetian engraver, Piranesi.”

“Published in 1835, this is a beautiful 29-volume set of over-sized folios, featuring etchings produced from his original plates, including his Imaginary Prisons series (La Carceri d’Invenzione). This was gifted to the DIA by the estate of former Michigan senator James McMillan in 1905.”

“And yes, in addition to digital offerings, we also still have the old index card catalogs.”

Piranesi’s Views of Rome @ DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Piranesi’s Views of Rome @ DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Maria’s Final Thoughts for Now

Maria Ketcham @ DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

“I really enjoy working with all the different people, the curators, researchers, general public, giving tours, etc. As much as I think I know as a librarian & archivist, I find there’s always more to learn.”

“The challenges are coming up with creative ways to use what resources we have. There’s also so many hidden parts of the collection. I’d like to make them more well-known and help people discover something new, something they didn’t even know they might be interested in.”

“For about 90 years, the DIA used to have an annual Michigan Artists Exhibition. It stopped in the early 90’s due to financial difficulties. I wish the DIA would bring it back.”

“At some point, we might start a Friends Group for the DIA Research Library & Archives. I would like that very much.”

“This work keeps me busy. I still have about 200 boxes of books to sort through and catalog. This work is thoroughly enjoyable, I love it. Come visit us sometime and explore the collection.”

Detroit Museum of Art, aka: the original DIA Building (image courtesy of DIA Research Library and Archives)

Donate your books

 

The DIA selectively accepts donations of art and art history books & associated materials.

Contact

libraryadmin@dia.org

 

DIA Research Library & Archives

3rd floor

Monday-Friday (9 a.m.-5 p.m.)

Open by appointment-only

(313) 833-3460

libraryadmin@dia.org

 

Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry Murals @ DIA (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

Homepage

https://www.dia.org/art/research-library

 

WorldCat

https://www.worldcat.org/libraries/46836

 

ArchiveGrid

https://researchworks.oclc.org/archivegrid/?q=contributor:7141&sort=title_sort+asc&limit=100

 

Map of the DIA

https://www.dia.org/sites/default/files/map-dia.pdf

 

Become a member of DIA

https://www.dia.org/membership

 

When visiting the DIA, what eateries are within walking distance?

 

Kresge Court (inside the DIA)

Located on Level 1, this beautiful eatery is designed like an open-air Italian medieval palace courtyard. They have coffee, wine, beer, liquor, sandwiches, salads, etc.

Try the Woodward Avenue Sandwich.

Hours: Tues-Thurs 9am-3:30pm, Fri 9am-9:30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-4:30pm

 

Kresge Court inside the DIA (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Kresge Court inside the DIA (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Kresge Court inside the DIA (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Outside of the DIA are:

 

Wasabi (15 E. Kirby, ste E) This Japanese-Korean spot is one of Maria’s personal favorites. Try the sushi and bibimbab.

Chartreuse (15 E. Kirby, ste D) Try the Cap steak and Madagascar vanilla pudding. Make sure you check the hours before coming.

Shields Pizza (5057 Woodward Ave) Try any of the pizzas and the dry rub wings.

Tony V’s Tavern (5756 Cass Ave) Try the pesto artichoke pizza and Tony V’s club sandwich.

Socratea (71 Garfield St, ste 50) Try the Moroccan mint tea.

Common Pub (5440 Cass Ave) Try the duck fat fries and the fried chicken.

Seva (66 E. Forest Ave) try the yam fries and the sweet potato quesadilla.

 

Bruegel the Elder-The Wedding Dance (1566) DIA Detroit

Copley-Watson and the Shark (1782) DIA Detroit

DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Piranesi’s Views of Rome @ DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Piranesi’s Views of Rome @ DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

view from 3rd floor, DIA Research Library & Archives (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Exclusive Interview: Dr. Carleton Gholz & Gabe Chess discuss the Red Bull Arts Detroit Library! (Grand Opening on May 7, 2019)

Exclusive Interview: Dr. Carleton Gholz & Gabe Chess discuss the Red Bull Arts Detroit Library! (Grand Opening on May 7, 2019)

Dr. Carleton Gholz (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

We’re sitting here on the 5th floor of WSU’s TechTown, a 5-story business incubator and co-working space in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood.

Right now, it’s a busy hive of activity and we’re sequestered in a quiet corner to discuss the exciting grand opening of Red Bull Arts Detroit Library.

I’m sitting here with the two brilliant, forward-thinking minds of Dr. Carleton Gholz and Gabe Chess.

Carleton is the main consultant on design and strategy for the Library. He is also an historian, journalist and founder of Detroit Sound Conservancy.

Gabe is a native North Carolinian, culture hacker with a taste for electronica & soccer, former Chicagoan and one of the main functionaries at Red Bull Arts Detroit.

Until more donations start rolling in, the Library is currently mostly comprised of a hybrid of Carleton’s personal Detroit book collection and from Detroit Sound Conservancy music library, many of which were gifted from the Frederick Gale Ruffner, Jr. Collection warehouse liquidation. Carleton is loaning his 1,500-book collection to the RBA Library for one year.

What is Red Bull Arts Detroit?

Red Bull Arts Detroit (photo courtesy of Red Bull)

New York City and Detroit are the only two Red Bull Arts exhibition spaces in North America. There’s also one in Sao Paolo, Brazil called The Station. Red Bull’s global HQ is in Austria and their North American HQ is in Santa Monica, California.

Opened in 2011, Red Bull Arts Detroit (1551 Winder Street) is a 14,000-square foot 2-story warehouse located in the Eastern Market district.

Red Bull, yes the energy drink company, pays 9 artists from all over the world a $12,000 stipend to live and work at the warehouse for 3 month intervals (ie: January-April, April-July, August-November).

The stipend allows the artists to focus on making art full-time while in Detroit. Being an artist is not easy and the money and dedicated time for free-flowing creativity are a blessing to struggling artists.

The basement of the warehouse is the old Eckhardt & Becker Brewery and is basically a cool subterranean brick-walled cavern. The brewery was here 1891-1969.

They are creating the reference Library as a platform for public engagement, which will be open to both resident artists and the general public.

 

A Lively Conversation with Carleton & Gabe

Gabe Chess & Dr. Carleton Gholz (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Carleton

“So, to kick things off for the Library, I’ll be doing a Reading Room talk on a book that is personally meaningful to me. It’s the 50-year, 10,000-square foot view of how I understand arts funding and how its drastically changed.”

“The book I will be talking about is the 1968 Detroit architecture classic, ‘The Buildings of Detroit’ by Hawkins Ferry, which was published by Wayne State University Press. There was a 2002 updated edition with a foreword by John Gallagher but I’ll be using the original.”

The book was my Grandfather’s copy and it even has the original Hudson’s receipt in it. He was a doctor, did his residency in Detroit in the 1940’s, lived on West Philadelphia Street and on Selden Street. My Dad was born in Detroit and worked as an architect.”

“The book I have is basically a family scrapbook, layered with article clippings, papers, notes, ephemera, etc., it’s my own little vertical file of supplemental material. It essentially comprises a parallel book of its own within the Hawkins Ferry Book.”

“The big question for me is, as a historian, how does one fully update this survey for a new age?

William Hawkins Ferry came from big money, the Ferry-Morse Seed Company, which was started by his grandfather, Dexter Ferry. Hawkins was born 1913 and died 1988. He was an architectural historian and DIA trustee who attended Yale and Harvard. He was a pre-WWII elite historic preservationist whose worldview did not include insights into the working class and the adaptive re-use of repurposed buildings in working class neighborhoods. He was a modernist who lived in a $2 million-dollar house on Lake Shore Drive in Grosse Pointe, a wealthy suburb of Detroit.”

In a world of scarce resources, funding for the arts is tough to come by. How would you know if Ferry’s book as a resource is definitive? I’m also very concerned about archives being accessible for non-Ivy League working class humans. To do this, archives would most likely need state funding of some sort.”

 

Reading Room: Dr. Carleton Gholz on “The Buildings of Detroit: A History by W. Hawkins Ferry”

https://www.facebook.com/events/435178813921974/

Dr. Carleton Gholz’s family copy of The Buildings of Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Gabe

“I grew up in a home with floor-to-ceiling bookcases and a huge reference library. My dad’s a poet and a professor and as such, my entire inheritance will be books. What I’ve found with books is that, if they’re there, you will use them.”

“We have all these artists and writers who need access to an archive of resources while in Detroit, so we’re trying to facilitate engagement in a meaningful way. Our collection will serve that purpose. We can help expose the public to our library, open it up to new perspectives and we hope to invite lots of people to engage in new and different types of thinking.”

The idea for the Red Bull Library came out of visiting artists who were missing their books and were therefore constantly going to the Detroit Public Library and we thought it was a great idea to have a library on-site for them. The library feels relevant, it’s a platform which willow allow us to help give voice to our community partners. What was once a blank space has been upgraded to provide better tools for artists. The library is a community tool.”

 

Carleton

“It raises an interesting question of what is the relationship of an artist to an archive? A background foundational knowledge of art and a variety of other things should be easily accessible and findable, which is why archives exist.”

“Personally, I’d like to see better arts funding being provided to help the community, like what Red Bull is doing with this Library, I think it’s tremendous. I find it interesting that a private company like Red Bull, feels its budget is better spent creating archives in an arts building, rather than doing something else with it.”

Gabe Chess & Dr. Carleton Gholz (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Gabe

“Well, Carleton, oddly what’s happened with Red Bull, points to what states should be doing, which is helping to provide funding for community progress. People typically only look at attendance numbers as a measure of success. High attendance figures are not always necessarily a good measure of delivery on a promise. If you build it, they will come.”

“Our Library is not exhaustive. It’s intended to be a series of meaningful books. There’s sometimes a myth of neutrality of institutions. Museums are often started by a handful of wealthy donors. This is a far more community-based effort and we’re very excited.”

 

Carleton

Agreed.”

 

Library Grand Opening event:

 

Reading Room: Dr. Carleton Gholz on “The Buildings of Detroit: A History by W. Hawkins Ferry”

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

 

Red Bull Arts Detroit Library

1551 Winder Street

Detroit, Michigan

Free entry, free street parking

 

Facebook Event Page

https://www.facebook.com/events/435178813921974/

Red Bull logo (courtesy of Red Bull)

 

Red Bull Arts Detroit Homepage

http://redbullarts.com/detroit/

 

RBA Detroit Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/redbullartsdetroit/

 

Dr. Carleton Gholz Homepage

http://csgholz.org/

 

Detroit Sound Conservancy

http://detroitsoundconservancy.org/

 

Buy the Hawkins Ferry book from WSU Press

https://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/buildings-detroit

 

Photos of the Hawkins Ferry House

https://www.wallpaper.com/art/william-kessler-michigan-modernist-house-hosts-group-art-show

Gabe Chess (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Dr. Carleton Gholz (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Gabe Chess & Dr. Carleton Gholz (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Dr. Carleton Gholz (photo by: Ryan M. Place)