AS Americans' interest in their own art heritage keeps growing, museums and galleries are rushing to keep pace. One of the busiest workers in the field is industrial Detroit, now rapidly coming into its own as a major center of American art research.

The leader of this cultural crusade is Edgar P. Richardson. 54, who has been successfully pushing American art among the automakers and manufacturers of Detroit for almost three decades, particularly since he became the director of the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Archives of American Art. This week Detroit's Institute...

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