Scathing sign lampoons DIA's Barat House demolition



Last week, it was announced that the Detroit Institute of Arts would soon demolish the Barat House, a mid-century modern former psych ward for troubled girls designed by noted architect Robert H. Snyder. A DIA spokeswoman said the demo would take two weeks.

Turns out, the demolition is moving fast — by Sunday afternoon, half the building was already reduced to rubble. But a closer look at the site on Sunday revealed someone had scrambled to make a clever, barbed criticism of the demolition.

It looks like some quick-thinking prankster went to work, zip-tying a makeshift museum label done in the style of the DIA's own to the fence. It reads:

Barat House, 1961
Concrete, brick, cinderblock, steel, and glass

Robert Harter Snyder
American, 1918-1985

This unique midcentury modern building was commissioned by the League of Catholic Women as a psychiatric clinic for young women. Its functions evolved over time, but it was occupied for more than 50 years until being purchased by the DIA in order to be demolished to create 65 new parking spaces.

Museum Purchase 

It's unknown who is behind the sign. (We can't help but wonder if it was artist Jerry Vile, who had previously set up 100 plastic lawn flamingos painted as vultures on the museum's lawn during the bankruptcy scare.)

Regardless, we have to admit it makes for some scathing postmodern art.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.