Palace Pilots

Reopening of the Kunstpalast Collection with public participation

At the new Kunstpalast, the museum’s extensive and varied permanent collection, including a wealth of new acquisitions, will be presented to the public. For this new presentation, ten Palace Pilots from Düsseldorf were selected who would like to contribute their own suggestions and views and to thus take part in the decision-making process in terms of creating a concept of art presentation that is close to the public’s heart.

Below please find details on the subjects of previous meetings. The most recent topic is at the top.

About the Project

“What, in your view, would need to change for a museum to be an attractive and communicative place for all?”

This was the question posed by the Kunstpalast in an open address to the citizens of Düsseldorf. The issue was raised against the backdrop of the reconstruction of the museum’s collection wing. With its extensive collection, ranging from paintings and sculptures to photography and design, the Kunstpalast considers itself an important identity-forming location for Düsseldorf’s citizens. “While it is us who administer the collection, it actually belongs to the people. We would like them to identify with our museum and its works of art,” Director General Felix Krämer pointed out. He took the planned reopening of the collection as an opportunity to call into being a citizens’ advisory committee for the museum: the Palace Pilots.

Rather than any expert knowledge, all that was required of applicants was a high degree of curiosity and a willingness to become involved. More than 1,000 applications were submitted, which made the selection of ten representatives quite challenging. The choice of participants was made so as to form a group reflecting a cross-section of society. The idea is that the ten Palace Pilots contribute their suggestions and thoughts and actively take part in the decision-making process as regards creating a concept of art presentation that is close to the public’s heart. Our Palace Pilots meet every two to three months to continue to help shape the city’s Kunstpalast in the future. As a token of our gratitude, participants are granted a year’s free membership for the Friends of the Kunstpalast, including free entrance to all exhibitions, as well as being invited to a number of special events. In addition, an expense allowance is paid for working on the project.

Photo: Anne Orthen
Photo: Anne Orthen


On the 1st floor you will find the result of the Palastpilot project. In this room, the Palace Pilots present their selected works, with which they actively contributed to the new presentation, in their own room.

Learn more

Here you can also discover the works selected by the Palace Pilots and shown in the Spot-On Room online:

Explore the artworks online

Records of the meetings

    Read here what the topics of the last meetings were. The top item is always the most recent.


    How many artworks do you place in a room without cluttering it? What kind of story do you want to tell? How can you make visitors curious and at the same time leave room for their own ideas and thoughts?
    The Palace Pilots discussed these and many other questions with our Director General Felix Krämer and his team at their first meeting this year. Based on the model of the so-called octagonal room, which the group will use as part of the new presentation of the collection, the miniature works of art were placed, moved around, and in some cases discarded. The realisation: less is often actually more.


    More than 100,000 objects, ranging from Rubens to Richter, through to razors – the collection of the Kunstpalast is vast both in terms of the number and variety of works.
    To make a selection for the exhibition organised by the Palast Pilots is not an easy task. In the past two meetings in August and October, the Pilots formed groups and discussed objects which had an impact on them – whether enthusiasm, joy, confusion or even boredom. Certainly a cause for delight was the new addition to the group: Nori the puppy.


    When planning an exhibition, it is obviously crucial do be familiar with the space. This is why at the end of April 2022 the group embarked on another inspection of the building site in the Collection wing of the Kunstpalast.

    For the first time the Palace Pilots were able to visit their exhibition room, which is currently still in shell form and will be filled with the group’s ideas once the Collection has reopened. Now that the “where” has been identified, the all-important question is: What are we going to show? So the Pilots set off to explore one of the museum’s depots, where they found themselves marvelling at works large and small, beautiful and peculiar, and drew inspiration for the next planning stage of their exhibition.


    At the meeting in March 2022, Steffen Krautzig from the museum’s Education department joined the group and demonstrated the current stage of development of the app as a digital companion for the new presentation. Some of the Palace Pilots had taken part in a workshop on the app’s development last year, so they now found out how, in concrete terms, their feedback from back then had been incorporated into the development process. The group then discussed the app’s design and user-friendliness. After this, the Palace Pilots presented their own ideas and suggestions for the exhibition planned as part of the new presentation. For instance, they discussed which approaches, themes and aspects of the presentation are most important to the group. Moreover, the team of the Kunstpalast was able to answer an number of open questions about the project. Finally, the group visited the exhibition Subversive Design at NRW-Forum and tried out the new app ARt Chat developed by


    Equipped with floor plans, catalogues and a wealth of ideas, the Palace Pilots independently organise meetings to develop the concept of their exhibition project. The next time they convene at the Kunstpalast, their ideas and suggestions will be discussed and a schedule leading up to the re-opening of the museum’s collection will be established.


    In October 2021, the meeting of the Palace Pilots was joined by Felix Krämer, Director General of the Kunstpalast, who answered their questions and, in turn, inquired about the group’s motivations and suggestions. It was also announced that the Palace Pilots are invited to curate the very first room of the exhibition route. The group was thus invited to make a prominent appearance in the museum’s reopening, being able to realise their ideas, which have also continually contributed to shaping the new presentation.


    There was much joy all around, when in early July 2021 a first meeting on site was possible. The meeting kicked off with a guided tour of the construction site given by Beate Fleckenstein, Project Manager for Construction Management at the Kunstpalast. Fleckenstein provided some general information on the construction project, on historical facts, the challenges encountered, as well as a few fun facts. After the tour, the issue of exhibition architecture was discussed: How are rooms in museums designed and staged? What size do wall texts have, and where (if at all) are they placed? What role do wall colours play? Afterwards, the Palace Pilots were invited to design their own exhibition rooms. Divided into two groups, they were given the task of curating and designing a room on the basis of a floor plan and small images of works from the Kunstpalast’s holdings.


    The theme of the second (online) meeting was the digital collection of the Kunstpalast. To begin with, to get a general impression of the group’s thoughts, the Palace Pilots were asked about their expectations of a museum’s digital collection. In the course of the meeting, a few examples of digital collections were presented and discussed in terms of the respective advantages and disadvantages. Christian Hupertz, who at the time was Head of Marketing and Digital at the Kunstpalast, took part in the meeting, giving some input on the museum’s digital strategy and its key aims. Towards the end, the group came up with concrete suggestions for the Kunstpalast’s digital collection.


    In December 2020, the first joint meeting of the ten Palace Pilots and staff of the Kunstpalast took place, online for obvious reasons. At the meeting, the first building block was laid for the group’s work on the conception of the new presentation of the museum’s collection. The group convenes roughly every three months, in order to discuss conceptual issues with the project team and to develop ideas. Between the meetings, there is hardly any matter that isn’t brought up in the Palace Pilots’ WhatsApp group. Ranging from the meaning of emojis to well-liked marketing measures or highlights of the last presentation of the collection, every subject is raised that could be relevant in terms of shaping its reinstallation. When, at the start of the new year, the Kunstpalast continued to be closed to the public and meetings on site were still not possible, the group was granted a digital peek behind the scenes. Exclusively for the Palace Pilots, a short film was produced during the setup of the Heinz Mack exhibition (10 March to 30 May 2021). The Palace Pilots received an invitation including a link to the online film along with a bag of popcorn by post.

    Meet the Palace Pilots


      15, secondary school student

      Being 15, I am probably less experienced than my fellow Palace Pilots, but, nonetheless, my heart beats for working creatively. I have engaged in expressing myself and making art in many different ways. Whether through singing, drawing or writing, to create something independently drives me forward. This is precisely why I wanted to become a Palace Pilot. I want to encourage other people of my age to experience art and I’d like to actively make the museum a more accessible place, a place where diversity prevails.


      50, forensic biologist, DNA expert

      At school and college I wasn’t interested in art at all, and hardly came into contact with it. I visited the Louvre during a stay in Paris, as one does, but no spark was kindled. Then, in 1998, I saw a retrospective exhibition of Tony Cragg at Lenbachhaus in Munich, where for the first time I realised what contemporary art can mean – a big bang experience for me. Ever since I’ve been very interested in art, I go to studios frequently, collect art and do projects with artists on issues relating to the natural sciences.


      29, digital manager and founder of an art startup

      When I was a child, my parents took me along to museums and exhibition, and I developed a passion for art and culture ever since. I would like to pass this passion on to other people and to show that, rather than being outdated venues, museums are great sources of inspiration. As for myself, I founded an art startup and have professional experience in the fields of digitalisation and marketing. So I really look forward to being given the opportunity to jointly develop innovative ideas for the Kunstpalast.


      50, sales manager

      Do 50 years have to pass before a Düsseldorf-based person with no knowledge of art becomes aware of art? How does a museum need to present itself or make its presence felt, without the mere term “museum” creating a barrier? Art should be made accessible and understandable even for people with no training in art history.


      22, student

      What prompted me to apply to become a Palace Pilot was my curiosity of working on the new presentation of the Kunstpalast collection as part of a group composed of a wide range of people, as well as the prospect of getting to know new perspectives and being able to contribute my own ideas to the process. I study Social Sciences and organise events and creativity workshops on the campus of my university, with an emphasis on literature and theatre. Getting actively involved in art and culture, taking a closer look at our (post-migrant) society and feminism is particularly important to me. I look forward to the experience ahead with the Kunstpalast team and the Palace Pilots!


      38, restaurant owner

      I run an Ethiopian restaurant in Düsseldorf and am interested in the relationship between African and European cultures, as well as the common ground they share. I would like to get a little closer to the museum and would be pleased to contribute something from my own biography.



      Hi, I’m Tim. I moved to Düsseldorf about six months ago and took to the city straight away. In my spare time, I love doing sports, and I meet up with friends. I haven’t had any contact with art or museums so far, so I’m looking all the more forward to the project and the other Palace Pilots! 🙂


      67, dementia carer and publisher of a network magazine

      My motivation for applying to become a Palace Pilot is threefold. For one thing, I think the term “Palace Pilote” is brilliant, evoking a sense of adventure and yet also responsibility. Also, I love art and its role as a mediator towards the viewer, and, thirdly, I would like to contribute my own ideas in meaningful and helpful ways. “A triptych of artistic aerobatics”.


      34, chemical technician

      Art is a universal global language. As part of the Palace Pilots project, we actively get involved in the staging and presentation of art. What motivates me, is to help make art more accessible for people.


      30, communications manager in the video game sector

      Ranging from drawing and painting to photography – I’ve always been passionate about creative work. To share this enthusiasm with other people, and to possibly infect others with it, is close to my heart. This is why I am happy and proud to be part of this great community. I am very pleased to be given the opportunity to combine creative passion and my professional experience gained from working in marketing in the video game sector, and to thus contribute to developing new ways of making the Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf even more attractive.