Located directly beneath the Rhine Promenade in Düsseldorf in a space nestled between two major road tunnels, KIT – Kunst im Tunnel was inaugurated in 2007 as a spectacular meeting place and focal point for contemporary art. KIT is situated on the same latitude as the Ministry for Families and the former State Chancellery in the Horionplatz. The space had already been used experimentally for events following the completion of the Rhine Promenade project in 1995. However, the idea of using the space as a permanent site – promoted chiefly by the art scene – was out of the question at the time for health and safety reasons.
The architectural studio Fritschi/Stahl/Baum, which had already delivered the plans and design for the Rhine Promenade, was commissioned in 2006 – the inaugural year of the Quadriennale Düsseldorf – to develop a concept for the realisation of an exhibition space.
The visible entrance to KIT – a glass pavilion facing the Rhine on the Promenade itself – houses the KIT Café, one of the most beautifully situated gastronomic addresses on the Rhine. When the sun is shining, the terrace, with its splendid view of the meandering Rhine, the so-called Rhine-Knee, is a spot for relaxation and enjoyment.
Visitors can access the subterranean exhibition space through the café and via a large flight of stairs or the lift: the space itself follows an elliptical arc for some 140 metres and runs parallel to the Rhine. The height of the ceiling and the width of the space vary. The works themselves are displayed in between the bare concrete walls and are produced by the various young and emerging artists invited to exhibit there by KIT’s artistic director, Gertrud Peters.
From around four to six alternating exhibitions are staged each year. The main focus of the programme is the presentation of emerging, contemporary art across a range of genres, such as sculpture, painting, photography, video art and installation. Also part of KIT’s avowed remit is to encourage, promote and support an exchange between international emerging artists. Mostly group exhibitions are presented, in rare cases also solo exhibitions. The mission of KIT – Kunst im Tunnel is to promote the attitude of young artists acquired in the art academies and to provide support, acceptance and recognition through exhibitions and publications and to enable initial experience with institutional exhibiting.
Another major interest of the KIT is the direct communication of the exhibition contents in the form of workshops and guided tours. This is often done in direct cooperation with the young exhibiting artists.