Mark Higbie – Michigan Central Station Art Program

Mr. Higbie describes the artwork at the Station as a “persistent presence” since it was built in 1913. It was the tallest railroad station in the country with the same designers as Grand Central Station in New York. At its peak, 200 trains and 4,000 passengers would pass through daily, and in the floors above, there were 3,000 office workers. In the 1970s, the amount of train travel at the Station dwindled, until it finally closed in 1988.

From the Station’s artistic perspective, there are three acts. Act 1 is its Rise and Fall: It was built with polished marble hallways, with a huge concourse that had skylights, as light was part of its design. Starting in 1988, 30 years of neglect allowed the elements to tear away at the structure. Act 2 is New Voices in the Hall: During this neglect, graffiti artists from around the country decorated the walls and columns. It was vandalism, but skilled, and art found its voice through these murals. Act 3 is Welcome to the Future: Since purchasing the building and surrounding properties in 2018, Ford Motor Co. has pledged to spend $740 to renovate. In addition to bringing the structure to its 1913 glory, some of the graffiti has been archived and all of it has been digitally preserved. New artists have also been hired to bring in new art, some of which can already be seen at the Bagley Mobility Hub. 

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