The Heidelberg Project is coming down

Um…so, heard anything about the Heidelberg Project lately? Well, if you haven’t seen the eastside Detroit spectacle, now’s the time. The project’s artist, Tyree Guyton, announced he’s going to take it down.

Guyton, who was the subject of our March cover story, told the Free Press about the project’s future on Friday. Credit’s due there and maybe you’ve seen the story already, but what the hell, here’s a link just in case. But we finally got a press release from the project’s PR firm at 1:29 p.m. today after the news has fully been processed around the Detroit web-o-sphere. Here’s a few paragraphs from that:

Yet, just as the city of Detroit is changing, so must The Heidelberg Project change to best serve the community. With that in mind, Guyton today announced his vision for the future of the project: Heidelberg 3.0. For Guyton, Heidelberg 3.0 presents an opportunity to learn from the successes and challenges of the project’s first 30 years and implement a plan that can be embraced by and serve the community for years to come.

Guyton and his team are setting out to transform The Heidelberg Project from an art installation largely driven by one man into a living, breathing arts-infused community for residents and visitors alike to gather, express their creativity, cultivate talent and embrace the culture of the neighborhood. Throughout the transition, The Heidelberg Project will remain focused on its primary objective: to improve the lives of people and neighborhoods through art. Guyton hopes that Heidelberg 3.0 will add to that mission by injecting new life, new people and new resources into the community.

“After 30 amazing years, it’s time to bring a close to this phase of the Project. It’s time for change! Haven’t you noticed the clocks?” said Guyton. Heidelberg 3.0 will see the work of the Heidelberg Project and Tyree Guyton continue to bring together residents, Heidelberg Project supporters and new partners to address blight and economic conditions by transforming the physical site and McDougall Hunt neighborhood into a self-sustainable cultural village. “It’s already happening. We’re seeing a cultural shift in the community with new ideas emerging around Heidelberg 3.0. Several folks have moved into the neighborhood to be closer to the Heidelberg Project and we’re galvanizing this energy and are reinforcing our commitment to the community,” says executive Director Jenenne Whitfield.


Since 1986, the Heidelberg Project has been a symbol of what Detroit art is capable of and a worldwide attraction, but hasn’t been without controversy or criticism. That’s (thankfully) acknowledged at the bottom of the press release:

Success for The Heidelberg Project has not come without challenges. The organization has faced much adversity, from theft and arson to demolition from city government, but has overcome and prospered thanks to generous supporters and the more than 270,000 people that visit the site each year.

Let’s expound on that a bit: Both the Young and Archer administrations have demolished parts of the project for their respective urban planning efforts, and the sites have suffered nine fires since 2013. And that’s not counting the daggers thrown from people who live in and around the neighborhood.

Still, Guyton pressed on. Parts of the project “will be placed in museums and galleries throughout the city and across the nation,” so we haven’t seen the last of the Heidelberg yet. No word on when the dismantling begins, but get your sight-seeing in soon. It’ll be winter before we know it.

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