Lawsuit claims Detroit Institute of Arts fooled voters with 'free' admission promise

Oakland, Wayne, Macomb get free admission to DIA but still must pay to see special exhibits

By Mara MacDonald - Reporter

DETROIT - In August, voters said yes to a millage across Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to keep the Detroit Institute of Arts open and operating daily.

Those millage dollars will get tri-county residents into the museum without charge, but they won't get them into special exhibits such as the Faberge exhibit going on now. That's why the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance is calling a foul. The group's lawsuit claims Metro Detroit voters were bamboozled into thinking a vote for the D.I.A. millage meant it would be free admission.

Read: DIA millage passes in all 3 counties

About the lawsuit

"The Detroit Institute of Arts lied. They said with this millage passed that people in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties would have unlimited admission to the art museum. And now they are charging people for what they call 'special exhibits.' That's not what's in the contract and that's not what they said in the campaign," said Leon Drolet, of the MTA.

Drolet is not the only one who is less than amused by the charge for special D.I.A. exhibits. A lot of grumbling has been going on behind closed doors of the various county art authorities which want to work out some kind of deal so the public won't be charged for the exhibits.

The contract the D.I.A. entered into with the counties is pretty clear. It says unlimited admission.

Watch: New life for DIA after measure passes

"If they signed that contract then they should live up to it," said Michael Moreau, of Macomb County's Shelby Township.

In the past, special exhibits always cost extra on top of museum admission. Drolet says that's not how this millage was sold to voters.

"This is worse than if there was no tax," said Drolet. "Before, you could go and would get in for less. Now, people actually end up paying (more) ... it's a double dip."

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