DETROIT (WWJ) – It’s not dead; it’s being reborn. That’s what organizers say as renovations begin at the Heidelberg Project in Midtown Detroit.
There were reports that after multiple arson fires in recent years destroyed all but two homes at the iconic 31-year-old outdoor art installation, the Heidelberg Project would close.
Heidelberg Project CEO Jenenne Whitfield said, while some of the damaged structures will be demolished, the two homes remaining will become a part of something they’re calling “Heidelberg 3.0.”
“The original houses were visually stimulating from the outside, but now we are taking the structure, the two that are left, and we’re renovating them so they can function inside and out,” she told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill.
Whitfield said they’ll start with the Numbers House, with original Heidelberg artist Tyree Guyton choosing a designer.
The renovated house will feature an artist-in-residence program; a new studio and gallery for emerging artists; and an education and event space for neighborhood events and youth programming. Whitfield said there are also plans for restrooms and a gift shop.
“The Heidelberg Project is not expanding,” Whitfield stressed. “This is not about expansion; this is about taking the work that we’ve already done to the next level.”
The Heidelberg Project last year launched a capital campaign after homes decorated by Guyton were targeted by arson since 2013.
Guyton founded the Heidelberg Project in 1986 in response to urban decay, describing it as an open-air art environment where discarded objects — including discarded shoes and vinyl records — were used to create a two-block area “full of color, symbolism and intrigue.”
Guyton announced in 2016 that he was planning to take most of it down.
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