“We do this out of love, without compensation. I love the idea of bringing the museum to people,” says Bloomfield Hills resident Carlene Van Voorhies. “I have always been interested in art. I give 200 to 250 talks and tours a year Van Voorhies.
She is an Interpretive Program Volunteer (IPV) for the Detroit Institute of Art.
With the passing of the mile to support the museum by residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties in 2010 and renewal in 2020, the DIA provides extensive outreach in metro Detroit. Although currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of schoolchildren and seniors are benefiting from free bus service to get to DIA. Admission to the museum is free for residents of all three counties.
Carlene VanVoorhies is part of a dedicated group of well-trained VPI volunteers. Each received a year of training from the curators of the museum’s various collections. After reviewing the scenarios for the presentations, each of the volunteers presents the program to the Volunteer Development Manager, Christine Mark, for approval.
“Not only do our IPVs play a vital role in helping the DIA fulfill its mission to create experiences that help every visitor find personal meaning in art, but they are also a key part of our engagement outside of the museum, by organizing art conferences throughout the region. said Salvador Salort-Pons, director of the DIA. “The support they provide to the museum at all levels is invaluable; I am deeply grateful for the time and talents they share with us.
“VanVoorhies is one of our 600 dedicated and hardworking volunteers,” said Mark. “We get feedback and feedback from visitors about how volunteers enrich their museum experiences.”
Among DIA’s outreach programs is the Behind the Seen program, which brings art-related topics to the community.
The goal of the Behind the Seen program is to help visitors and listeners experience what people see when they visit the museum.
There are about 18 different topics for presentations. IPVs must obtain approval for each of their subjects. Anyone can request a speaker to come to their library, school, senior center or other organization. Popular subjects include In the Garden which features paintings by Cassatt and Monet, Through Her Eyes which features female artists, and Diego Rivera and the Detroit Industry Murals.
“People are very grateful to have someone come and talk to them, although currently most are virtual programs,” VanVoorhies said. “Once at the Fleischman Center, the seniors were particularly interested in Diego Rivera Court’s presentation. A woman had tears in her eyes as she remembered Wayne State University students enjoying meeting in court for cheap dates.
The presentation included information about the frescoes created in 1932 and 1933 by Diego Rivera. It was a gift from Edsel Ford. It is now a National Historic Landmark.
The DIA is considered by experts to be one of the six best art museums in the United States. It has over 100 galleries and 65,000 artifacts, not all of which are on display. It has one of the largest and most distinguished collections of European art. In 1922, a museum representative purchased the first painting by Van Gogh to appear in a museum in the United States. The famous self-portrait is now part of the treasures of the collection.
One of visitors’ favorite exhibits is The French Table. Beautiful pieces of china and silverware are laid out on a video-shown table that changes dishes and foods from a five-minute course cycle to a three-hour dinner that would have been served to the French aristocracy.
The dishes presented are among the beautiful objects of the DIA.
The galleries feature works of art from ancient to contemporary times, including paintings, graphic arts, and artifacts of African, Asian, Oceanic, Islamic, European, and African American art.
Those confined to their homes at this time may also benefit from DIA’s program offerings. By going online to dia.org, one can sign up for the newsletter which contains information about online programs available to everyone. At 1 p.m. on Thursday a program is presented. Many other programs are also accessible on the site.
Visitors come from all over the world to see the fine art collections.
The Detroit Institute of Arts is a tremendous asset to the Detroit community.
The DIA is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday through Sunday. Ticket reservations are required and can be obtained online at dia.org.