Story Line

Over six decades, the forces at work–deindustrialization, city-suburb distress, depopulation, loss of political power and bad decision making–contributed to the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. When it became clear that the Detroit Institute of Arts and its magnificent collection were assets that could be liquidated, the conflict between selling art and funding pensions for municipal retirees became the central point of tension in the case. The nation’s major philanthropies together with the State of Michigan finally brought to the table the missing ingredient–cash. Gradually, Then Suddenly traces the Detroit’s path into insolvency and bankruptcy and the extraordinary plan that created a future this once great city.