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Cranbrook Art Museum reopens with design exhibit

(Michael H. Hodges, The Detroit News) A quiet revolution has remade one of the Detroit area’s gems.

After closing for a two-and-a-half-year renovation and expansion, the Cranbrook Art Museum will reopen Friday with a new show highlighting the institution’s role in the birth of modern American design, as well as 11 days of related performances, lectures, tours and family workshops.

The festivities celebrate the completion of the $22 million building project, which included construction of the museum’s striking new Collections Wing, as well as a meticulous restoration of the iconic 1942 building by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen.

The goal was to overhaul an aging building in dire need of insulation, vapor locks and modern climate-control systems without appearing to have touched a thing, says museum director Gregory Wittkopp. “I hope when people come in, the reaction is, ‘What did you spend the money on?'” he says.

Actually, because construction took place after the 2008 financial collapse, money went further than originally anticipated.