Heidelberg Project-Detroit's Famously Funky Outdoor Art Project is Wowing Crowds While Changing Lives

The Heidelberg Project | By Sherry Trautman | Traveling Michigan

The Heidelberg Project, located in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood in Detroit’s East Side was initiated in 1988 when Mr. Tyree Guyton envisioned transforming the vacant lots and abandoned houses in the neighborhood where he once grew up.

The Heidelberg Project

Address: 3600 Heidelberg Street

As someone with an artistic mind, I’m profoundly drawn to Tyree Guyton’s famous multi award-winning outdoor art environment, The Heidelberg Project.  Taking in all the colors and ideas is inspirational.

While wandering among the piles of lonely suitcases dreaming of adventures, I passed a larger than life Homer Simpson, dozens of forgotten shoes hanging on a fence, a shopping cart filled with old electronics and a discarded doll that stared back at me with forlorn eyes.  

Perhaps the most eye-popping element of the environment is the two-story house painted with huge colorful polka dots. 

Tyree Guyton's Vision

Tyree Guyton's vision of the Heidelberg Project is to:

  • Inspire people to appreciate and use art to enrich their lives 
  • To improve the social and economic health of the community 

A sign reads, “We give paint brushes instead of guns.”

The Heidelberg Project recently developed a free arts education program called the Heidelberg Arts Leadership Academy.  The program aims to empower students to become active change agents in their community. 

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We headed off the beaten path in Detroit to see the older and forgotten neighborhoods. I discovered they are very interesting, full of character and life. You have to get out of the car, walk around and breathe it in to truly experience the area.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ These toys used to be played with, loved, adored. The high heels (can you find them?) no doubt were for a party. But time has taken away their usefulness and have been left discarded. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Maybe someone will find them and restore them? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #detroit #detroitmichigan #detroitcity #urbanexplore #abandoneddetroit #abandoned #detroitdecay #motorcity #detroit_igers #detroitphotographer #detroitlove #detroitmi #Motorcity #abandonedplaces #beautyindecay #urbanexploration #photography #mi #Michigan #Michigander #Michiganphotographer #Urbanexplorers #explore #oldtoys #graphiti #graffiti

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Interesting Fun Facts About the Heidelberg Project

  • The founder himself, Tyree Guyton, gives guided tours if scheduled two weeks in advance.
  • The Heidelberg Project is the third most visited cultural destination in Detroit with over 275,000 visitors annually!
  • Tyree Guyton appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1991
  • Hip Hop artist, Russell Simmons offered three years of support for the project.

Can You Take Photos of the Heidelberg Project?

Yes, of course!

Is It Safe?

As with any big city, please use caution and common sense as you look around the exhibit.

Do not enter the vehicles or homes and keep a watchful eye of your surroundings at all times. 

The Heidelberg Project Warning: Please beware of panhandlers soliciting for donations or unauthorized tours of the Heidelberg Project.

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What do you think the artist was thinking when they painted this abandoned building in Detroit, Michigan?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ *It's up to you to revive the city?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ *They are asking for you to help? (the viewer?)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ *You (all of us) are to blame for the decline of the area?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ *Or maybe only YOU can help yourself, that's it's up to you and only you to be successful in life?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ What are your thoughts?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #detroit #detroitmichigan #detroitcity #urbanexplore #abandoneddetroit #abandoned #detroitdecay #motorcity #detroit_igers #detroitphotographer #detroitlove #detroitmi #Motorcity #abandonedplaces #beautyindecay #urbanexploration #photography #mi #Michigan #exporemichigan #Michigander #Michiganphotographer #Urbanexplorers #explore #oldtoys #graphiti #graffiti #graphics #you #itsallaboutyou

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About the Lead Author | Sherry Trautman

Thanks for stopping by!

Our Words of Wisdom: “Never follow anyone else’s path. Unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path, then by all means follow that path.”

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We're Sherry and Chris the founders of one of Michigan's most comprehensive and Top Travel Blogs!

    Sherry Trautman is a seasoned business owner and a multifaceted content creator, deeply entrenched in the world of travel in Michigan. With her extensive background in writing, editing, photography, marketing, website design, web mastering, social media, and publishing, she is the driving force behind the acclaimed Michigan Travel site "Travel-mi.com." A lifelong Michigander, Sherry's journey began in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan led her to St. Joseph during her formative years, and further to Kalamazoo for her higher education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design and Fine Art from Western Michigan University. Her career initially blossomed in Battle Creek, where she contributed significantly to aviation, marketing, and the art industry.

    In 2018, Sherry, alongside her husband Chris, embarked on a passionate endeavor with the inception of Travel-MI.com. This venture was not just a business but a full-time commitment to exploring and celebrating the diverse landscapes and communities of Michigan. Together, they tirelessly traverse the state, curating unique experiences, capturing stunning visuals, and weaving engaging narratives that showcase Michigan's rich cultural tapestry and natural beauty. From her early experiences in different Michigander locales to her extensive professional background, Sherry's life and work epitomize a deep-rooted expertise in Michigan travel, making her an authoritative voice in this niche.

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