When YouTube began, it was likened by some as a scattered web version of a funniest home videos television show.

But in a sign the art world is taking YouTube and amateur video seriously, the prestigious Guggenheim museums and YouTube launched a competition on Monday to search for the most creative online videos and expand on ideas of what video can be.

The project, called YouTube Play. A Biennial of Creative Video, will showcase 20 videos selected from the web community to be presented at the Guggenheim in New York on October 21 and simultaneously projected at museum centers in Berlin, Bilbao, and Venice.

Creative online video is one of the most compelling and innovative opportunities for personal expression today, said Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation director Richard Armstrong. 'YouTube Play' demonstrates this is within the reach of anyone who uses a computer and has access to the Internet.

The global competition was not looking for what's 'now,' we're looking for what's next, said Guggenheim Foundation deputy director Nancy Spector, emphasizing the museum's commitment to new media.

Open to anyone from creative professionals to amateur video makers, participants have until July 31 to submit new or old videos from the last two years to Youtube.com/play. The videos must run up to 10 minutes in and be accompanied by a written statement.

Entrants are asked to submit creative videos, including art, animation, motion graphics, narrative and non-narrative work, or entirely new art forms on any subject.

From 200 finalists that will be shown on youtube.com/play, 20 will be selected by a jury of top artists, filmmakers, designers, and musicians to be shown in the museums.

YouTube said a jury of experts will determine the 20 winners, and the project will give video creators a shot at international artistic recognition.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Bob Tourtellotte)