Detroit Disassembled

Photographs by Andrew Moore

September 30, 2012–March 17, 2013

Andrew Moore, Shelter, Engine Works, Detroit Dry Dock Company Complex, Rivertown neighborhood, 2008, digital chromogenic print scanned from film negative, 45.5 x 36 in., Collection of Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell.

For decades the Motor City was America’s icon of prosperity, but Detroit has fallen into an incredible state of dilapidation since the decline of the American auto industry. Once America’s fourth largest city, Detroit’s 138 square miles are now one-third empty land dotted with thousands of abandoned structures. Not just humble homes but also grand architectural statements of prosperity and power have been reduced to vacant shells. For generations Americans have gone to Europe to visit its castles and coliseums; now Europeans tour Detroit’s ruins.

 In Detroit Disassembled, Andrew Moore reveals the tragic beauty of this unsettled and unsettling territory. Thirty monumentally scaled photographs depict the windowless grand hotels, vast barren factories, collapsing churches, offices carpeted in velvety moss and entire blocks reclaimed by prairie grass. These epic images disclose how the forward march of the assembly line has been thrown spectacularly into reverse in Detroit.

Andrew Moore

Andrew Moore is renowned internationally for large-format photography that captures the essence of place. His art, which has been exhibited throughout the United States and Europe and in the United Arab Emirates, is in numerous museum collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Canadian Centre for Architecture, and Israel Museum. Images from Detroit Disassembled have been acquired by museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Moore’s books include Inside Havana (2002), Governors Island (2005), and Russia: Beyond Utopia (2005).

Detroit Disassembled is one of two photography exhibitions the National Building Museum is presenting in the fall of 2012 that explore the residential, commercial, and industrial ruins and surviving communities of Detroit, Michigan. Learn more about the concurrent exhibition Detroit is No Dry Bones.


This exhibition is organized by the Akron Art Museum and made possible by a major gift from Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell with additional support from the John A. McAlonan Fund of Akron Community Foundation. The accompanying publication is underwritten by Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell with additional funding from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.