Citizens' Exhibition


Be visible, convey perspectives, facilitate dialog

The Citizens’ Exhibition method was developed as a way of presenting the differing opinions of people directly affected by planned activities or conflicts in order to facilitate a productive dialog.

This method allows different interest groups to get involved by presenting their perspectives, opinions, and suggestions. Representative individuals from these interest groups are interviewed, photographed, and their opinions presented in the form of an exhibition. The exhibition’s opening event brings together members of all of the different interest groups in order to facilitate a dialog. The exhibition allows participants to make their voices heard and should thus be open to the largest possible public both on location and online. The goal is to reach a large audience and motivate the local population to get involved in the participatory process.

Citizens’ Exhibition at a Glance:

  • Ordinary citizens become visible
  • Interviews and photography are the central elements
  • Open to the public both on location and online
  • Can serve as the introduction to further participation processes
  • Large reach and increased motivation to take part in further participation processes


Böhm, B. (2015): Die Bürgerausstellung als Beteiligungsmethode in gesellschaftlichen Konfliktfeldern. eNewsletter Wegweiser Bürgergesellschaft 15/2015 vom 15.10.2015. Stiftung Mitarbeit. [Zugriff 28.07.2016]

Keppler, D.; Böhm, B.; Dienel, H.-L. (Hrsg.) (2013): Die Bürgerausstellung. Die Perspektive von Bürgern und Bürgerinnen als Gegenstand qualitativer Sozialforschung und praktischer Beteiligung. München: oekom.

Böhm, B.; Legewie, H.; Dienel, H.-L. (2008): Die Bür­gerausstellung: Eine Kombination sozialwissen­schaftlicher, partizipativer und künstlerischer Elemente (70 Absätze). Forum Qualitative Sozial­forschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research Volume 9, Nummer 2, Art. 33. [Zugriff 28.07.2016]

Selected Testimonials

Citizens’ Exhibition Menschen und Engagement im Gebrauchtwarenhandel in Deutschland und Dänemark, 2016

Citizens’ Exhibition Zukunft Olivaer Platz for the Amt für Öffentliches Bauen Berlin-Charlottenburg,  2010

Citizens’ Exhibition Young Cities – Developing Urban Energy Efficiency, Teheran, Iran, and Ready to move...?! Towards Sustainable Traffic and Transport Solutions, Hyderabad, India, for the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, 2010

Citizens’ Exhibition Voller Energie, Magdeburg, und Personalisierte Medizin, Bremen, for Wissenschaft im Dialog, sponsored by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, 2009

Citizens’ Exhibition Brandenburg - Das bist Du uns wert, for Stiftung Demokratische Jugend,  sponsored by the Ministerium für Bildung, Jugend und Sport des Landes Brandenburg, 2008

Citizens’ Exhibition Wandern und Wiederkommen, Magdeburg, for the Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Bau- und Stadtentwicklung, 2006

Citizens’ Exhibition Projekt Zukunft - Familien an der Universität, Leipzig, for the Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Bau- und Stadtentwicklung, 2006

Click here for further nexus-supported Citizens’ Exhibitions.


Citizens’ Exhibitions were developed in the 1990s in a university context and were later established as a participatory method. The point of departure is a topic or problem that affects multiple interest groups.

In the initiation phase of such an exhibition, a situational analysis is conducted in order to define both the problem itself and an overall concept. This concept should define the goals, relevant interest groups, available resources, location, time line, and steps of the project, as well as the other possible applicable participatory methods. Information sheets and an interview template are then prepared. The exhibition should include the widest possible spectrum of impacted interest groups, as well as other actors in civil society, economics, administration, and politics. One person from each of these interest groups is then interviewed as a representative of the group’s perspective; and interviewees and their relevant surroundings are photographed.

In preparation of the exhibition posters, important quotes are pulled from the interviews and combined with further text and the photos. Most Citizens’ Exhibitions consist of 15 to 20 posters, as well as one general poster describing the topic and method. After being approved by the interest groups, the posters make their first appearance at the exhibition opening, which acts as a departure point for broader discussion. The exhibition should reach a large audience both on location and online. Evaluations of this method have shown it to be particularly effective in combination with other methods of direct dialog like discussions, expert talks, and online forums. In its ability to pull together many different interest groups, this method has also proven particularly useful in conflict resolution for city neighbourhoods or regions that are confronted with questions of planning and development.

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