Irwin House Global Art Center and Gallery takes a local approach to fostering arts and culture
Detroiter Valerie Irwin’s life has revolved around the arts. Her appreciation began in middle school, when she started drawing and continued into adulthood when she became an elementary school teacher. After she met her husband, Council Irwin Jr., they began collecting art together.
Irwin and her late husband, who was a social entrepreneur and owner of Irwin Travel Agency in Detroit, collected art from around the world and advocated for working artists. Together, they lived a globe-trotting life, boarding international flights and meeting with foreign dignitaries eager to boost their countries’ tourism economy. On her first visit to Africa, Irwin was struck by the art from “the homeland,” she recalls.
These experiences culminated in the opening of the Irwin House Global Art Center and Gallery in September 2018 on West Grand Boulevard, just a mile down the street from the Motown Museum. It was a project years in the making, with the vision to find a home for the couple’s art collection.
Photos: Nick Hagen for Model D Media