A person riding a bicycle through an art museum will at best, be asked to leave, and at worst, be arrested.
That’s why the Polly Ann Trail Management Council, in conjunction with the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), is offering the public a unique opportunity to appreciate and learn about some of history’s greatest masterpieces from atop a bike seat.
On Sunday, Sep. 16, there will be a special ride during which cyclists will be able to view reproductions of priceless works of art placed along the trail as part of the DIA’s Inside/Out program, a community outreach initiative.
“It’s going to be exciting,” said Trail Manager Linda Moran.
The event will begin at 10 a.m. There’s no charge to participate, but contributions will be accepted.
“Whatever donations we receive, 50 percent will go to the DIA and 50 percent will go to the trail,” Moran said.
Riders are asked to gather at Merge Studio & Gallery, located at 33 Pleasant St. in Oxford Village. There’s no need to register beforehand.
“Just show up,” Moran said.
There will be two rides – a short route and a long route.
The short ride will be 6 miles round-trip and showcase five works of art.
The long ride will be 34 miles round-trip and include all 11 pieces spread across Oxford, Addison and Orion townships as well as the villages of Oxford and Leonard.
Each ride will have its own leader and a docent from the DIA. “We’ll have one to keep us from getting lost and one to explain what we’re looking at,” Moran said.
The docents will provide information about the art, explain why it was selected and talk about the DIA in general.
“Each piece represents that section of the trail or that part of Oakland County. They’re chosen by a curator specifically for each site,” Moran said. “There’s a whole story to every piece of art that’s out there. It’s very entertaining and fascinating.”
Before the ride starts, members of Oxford High School’s chapter of the National Honor Society will hand out maps depicting the trail and the locations of each piece of art.
Now in its ninth year, the Inside/Out program exposes people to a sample of the DIA’s massive collection by placing reproductions of famous works of art in communities to form “a grand, open-air gallery.” The idea is to inspire folks to visit the museum in downtown Detroit to see the real thing.
“It’s really a lovely program,” Moran said. “The art is beautiful.”
The paintings along the Polly Ann Trail were installed in early August and will remain in place through Oct. 31. They extend from Joslyn Rd. in Orion Township to Bordman Rd. in Addison Township.
“Everybody loves it,” Moran said. “They want it out here all the time. They think it’s great.”
This is the third time since 2011 that the Oxford area has been selected to participate in the Inside/Out program.
Given Oakland, Macomb and Wayne residents have been helping to fund the DIA since voters passed a regional millage for it in 2012, Moran said the art ride is a good way for people to see their “tax dollars at work” right in their own backyard.
“(The DIA has) these really fabulous programs that people don’t know about, that you can get out and enjoy without having to go all the way to Detroit to see the full collection,” she said.