The Heidelberg Project Detroit

I had heard about The Heidelberg Project and decided to go explore it myself. It is named after the street it is on, Heidelberg St. in Detroit. It sits in one of the worst parts of the city.

The Heidelberg Project is an outdoor art installation located in the heart of the city of Detroit, Michigan. It was created in 1986 by artist Tyree Guyton as a response to the decay and blight that had overtaken his childhood neighborhood on Heidelberg Street.

The project consists of a series of outdoor installations and sculptures made from found objects, recycled materials, and everyday detritus that Guyton has gathered from the neighborhood. Some of the installations are abstract and colorful, while others are more representational, depicting scenes from everyday life in the inner city.

The Heidelberg Project has become a symbol of hope and resilience in Detroit, a city that has faced its share of economic and social challenges over the years. The project has attracted visitors from all over the world and has been featured in numerous publications and documentaries.

Over the years, the Heidelberg Project has faced its share of controversy and setbacks. Some critics have accused Guyton of glorifying blight and poverty, while others have accused the city of trying to shut the project down. Despite these challenges, the Heidelberg Project continues to be a vibrant and beloved part of the Detroit community.

I won’t go into the details of how it came to be and why. You can read all about it on the Heidelberg website here. I will, however, invite you to explore the Heidelberg project photos with me via these shots.

Some people happened to be shooting a video of sorts that day. It was nice to have company since the streets were pretty void of humans, and Detroit had its cast of characters always roaming the streets. It is not necessarily dangerous, but trust your instincts and don’t put yourself in a bad situation. You’ve been warned.

There was so much to see everywhere. So many details. The street art collection is always changing, with things being added and detracted, but the main structures remain.

Heidelberg photos 01

Cars seemed to be represented all over the properties, and they were boards propped up with painted cars on them.

Heidelberg photos 02

This was my favorite house. So much to see. I have photo vignettes with close-ups in the 3 photos below.

Heidelberg photos 03

The street itself was even part of the art. Polka dots were painted on the streets and on the sidewalks.

Heidelberg street photos

A boat is full of stuffed animals aptly named Noah. A lot of religious themes are threaded throughout the different houses and art. It’s interesting to pick up on them.

the heidelberg project art 01

The “Penny Car” below has pennies glued all over. Funny enough, the car also has a Santa inside and sticking out the back with a toilet seat.

the heidelberg project art 02

Signs with ironic and warning messages are everywhere. Read the one with the lady in the background.

the heidelberg project art 03

Want to go see it for yourself? Get some Directions to the street (not to be confused with the museum address). It really is a must-see in Detroit. Lots of amazing art that really gets you thinking.

Some tips on visiting the Heidelberg Project in Detroit are: don’t go alone, go in a group and use common sense. Always follow your gut and don’t do anything stupid, and of course, go in the day. While you can see a lot of it from the car, you will miss the little details unless you walk up to the houses. I can’t wait to go again soon. It is really a gem; grab your cameras and go!

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About the author
Growing up in Detroit, Lindsey is a Michigan State University alumnus. She feels incredibly lucky to live in Detroit, and much more, to spend her days promoting the Detroit area as a travel destination.