Detroit is a center for art and design, a unique post-industrial city that serves up progressive and unpretentious cool across its sprawling 140 miles. The birthplace of automotive manufacturing attracted architects like Albert Kahn, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Minoru Yamasaki, and even the great Frederick Law Olmstead, who created Belle Isle Park, which offers lush fall foliage for nature walks on the Detroit River with views of Canada on the horizon. On the heels of its great renaissance, a T&C travel guide, below, to the best of Motor City’s culture, dining, music, and shopping.
International travelers began to flock to Aretha Franklin’s hometown decades ago, where the local music scene now rivals that of Nashville or Austin. The Temptations and the Supremes cut their first records at 2648 West Grand Boulevard, which became the Motown Museum in 1985. After a yearlong closure, it reopened its doors this summer and is currently in the midst of a multiphase $50 million expansion.
Detroit Institute of Arts
In 1922 the Detroit Institute of Arts bought a Van Gogh (Self-Portrait, 1887, above), becoming the first public museum in the U.S. to own one of his works. For the 100th anniversary of the acquisition, the DIA opens an exhibition this month featuring 70 of the artist’s masterpieces brought together from around the world.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Detroit’s contemporary art scene is a celebration of the city’s talent. This fall sees Jason Revok’s first solo museum show at MoCAD and the works of Paul Verdell at the Library Street Collective. “This city embraces the arts from the grassroots to institutional levels,” says LSC co-owner Anthony Curis.
Baker’s Keyboard Lounge
“Detroit deserves to be recognized as an official music capital of the world,” says Jennifer Washington, producer of God Said Give ’Em Drum Machines, a documentary about the city’s techno scene that premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. A jazz fan? Go to Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, which dates back to 1934. A vinyl diehard? Crate-dig at Peoples Records.
Make home base the art-filled Shinola Hotel, which was conceived by the namesake watch brand in 2019 and is conveniently located in the heart of downtown. The property has a buzzy Andrew Carmellini restaurant, but take advantage of the rest of the city’s dynamic culinary scene: Saffron De Twah (for chef Omar Anani’s critically acclaimed spin on Moroccan dishes) and Barda (for an Argentinian feast). And save room for a pastry (or two) at Warda Pâtisserie, which blends flavors from France, Asia, and Algeria—it won the James Beard award this year.
Around the corner from the Shinola, Gucci has opened its first boutique in town for ready-to-wear, home decor, and its second capsule collection with Detroit vs. Everybody, a label founded by Motor City native Tommey Walker. “The essence of Detroit,” he says, “is its universally inspiring spirit, which informs my mission to persist rather than quit, contribute rather than complain, unify rather than divide, innovate rather than duplicate.”
This story appears in the October 2022 issue of Town & Country. SUBSCRIBE NOW
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