Driving eastbound on I-96 through Detroit, you might see it out of the corner of your eye — a brief burst of light and color as you pass West Grand Boulevard. That fleeting flash of brilliance is Detroit’s African Bead Museum, a remarkable but unheralded collection of outdoor art on the city’s west side.
Started ten years ago by the artist Dabl, the open-air exhibit celebrates African language and culture through an exuberant display of broken mirrors, beads, colorful paint, and found objects. The collection consists of two brightly adorned buildings, a found art exhibit (“Iron Teaching Rocks How to Rust”), a community garden, a sidewalk mural featuring the scripts of African languages, and a small shop, Dabl’s Perette’s, which is filled to the brim with gorgeous African beads and jewelry.
It’s truly a sight to behold, and further evidence that Detroit deserves to be a national arts destination. You can check it our for yourself at 6559 Grand River Avenue, Detroit, MI 48208. It’s near the junction of W. Grand Boulevard, Grand River Avenue, and I-96, right across from Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church and Northern High School. Be sure to stop into the store, too, to meet the artist and peruse his fabulous collection of African beads.