The (Unofficial) Detroit Museum of Animal Art

Though it’s impossible to tell from the outside, this nondescript former auto repair shop on the city’s east side has come back to life (so to speak) as a hidden street art destination, filled with a playful, anatomically-inspired menagerie of creatures exploring their crumbling environment.

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It started, of course, with the animal paintings, which are dated 2012.  They appear in a variety of size, scale, and style; some are whole, others are skeletal, and some have been halved into mock anatomical diagrams, disintegrating with the building around them.  They were applied both by stencil and freehand, and are inventively interactive with their world – a giraffe pokes its head through a hole in the ceiling, a skeletal bird lies among pieces of a collapsed ceiling, and a massive okapi overtakes an entire wall, best viewed through a set of two service windows.

Most of the artists who have come to contribute their own vision on the shop’s walls have been respectful of the original vision, but some animals and designs have already been lost behind other, unrelated tags, as is par for the course when it comes to graffiti.  The Museum, as it stands today, is still an enchanting reflection on life and death, as well as a lesson in the ephemerality of even the most beloved street art.

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