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Dorner Prize


RISD students are invited to submit Dorner Prize proposals for temporary, site-specific projects at the RISD Museum. This artistic intervention can take the form of a physical, digital, or programmatic encounter, and can examine, critique, or celebrate the Museum’s collections, architectural idiosyncrasies, habits of visitation, and or/web presence.

Dorner Prize, a juried competition for Rhode Island School of Design degree candidates, was first established in 1995 as the Sitings exhibition. The two Dorner Prize winners will receive cash prizes of $500 each and implementation funds up to $1000. The winning artists work with Museum staff during each phase of the development process and are celebrated with online promotion and public events. The Dorner Prize, named for distinguished RISD Museum director Alexander Dorner (tenure 1938–1941), is made possible by a generous anonymous gift.

Recent winning entries include
Conversation Pieces
History Bridge and Living Architecture: The Sacred Catwalk
Light Source Seeking Surface for Transparent Relationship and Back Door @ the Pendleton

Winning Dorner Prize projects are on view Thursday, February 16, through Sunday, June 4, 2017.
Jurors for the Dorner Prize 2017 are Dominic Molon (Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art, RISD Museum) and Eduardo Duarte (associate professor, Interior Architecture, RISD).


Please direct questions to

Table of Contents


Who may participate?
Any RISD degree candidate may submit a proposal. Collaborations are welcome, and more than one proposal per entrant is allowed. Brown University students may apply with a collaborating RISD student.

Where are the sites?
Proposals must be for new work designed specifically for one of the Museum sites. A Museum staff member conducts tours of the three physical sites on Sunday, September 25, 1-2 pm and Wednesday, September 28, 12-1 pm. These tours begin at the front desk in the Chace Center Lobby.

How and when do I submit a proposal?
See how do I apply . All entries must include two narratives, a budget, additional project materials and visuals illustrating the proposed installation, along with three visuals of previous work (in the case of collaborating artists, each may submit three visuals of their previous work). The deadline for Dorner Prize proposals is Friday, October 28, 2016, 11:59 pm. No proposals will be accepted after that time.

How is the winning project selected?
Evaluation of the proposals is based on content (commentary on or response to the Museum spaces and/or its collection), aesthetics (originality, sensitivity to site, use of materials), and the strength of the proposal (clarity of presentation, adherence to guidelines including physical feasibility for installation).
Jurors select a group of finalists. Finalists are notified immediately and scheduled to meet with the jurors to discuss their proposals in the Museum during the week of Monday, November 14. Two proposals will be selected for implementation.

Winning artists are responsible for

  • Entering into a contract with the Museum specifying responsibilities.
  • Executing temporary projects as presented to the jurors, making only those modifications required and reviewed by the jurors and Museum staff.
  • Participating in at least three scheduled meetings with Museum staff. The first meeting, the week of November 28, 2016, will be held at the Museum, during which installation procedures will be planned. A second meeting, with a curator and other applicable Museum representatives, will be held the week of January 16, 2017. This appointment may be scheduled at the artists’ studios to evaluate progress and advise on outstanding implementation issues. Finally, before installation begins, artists meet by appointment with staff to finalize details for installation.
  • Installing and deinstalling work under the supervision of the Museum’s registration, security, installation and digital-content staff, as applicable. The site must be restored to its original state.
  • Sharing inspiration and process with the public in informal, brief gallery talks (Work in Process program) at mutually convenient times during the month of March 2017.
  • Writing a submission for the Museum’s online resource, *Manual*, due Friday, April 14, 2017. This article, 500–1250 words in length, should highlight your artistic process and documentation of ideas, materials, techniques, and meaning related to your project.


Review the dates below to insure that you are available for the jury interview, installation planning meeting, installation, and deinstallation.

Sunday, September 25, 2016, 1–2 pm: Site tour starting in Chace Center lobby

Wednesday, September 28, 12–1 pm: Site tour starting in Chace Center lobby

Wednesday, October 12, 12–1 pm, and Wednesday, October 26, 12-1 pm: Office hours in Chace Center lobby. Applicants may ask questions before submitting their application

Friday, October 28, 11:59 pm: Application deadline

Week of November 14: Finalists interviews with jurors

Week of November 28: Planning meeting by appointment

Week of January 16, 2017: Visit to winning artists’ studios by curator and installation staff by appointment

Monday, February 13: Installation begins (assistance by Museum staff may be limited and must be scheduled prior to installation)

Wednesday, February 15, noon: Installation completed

Thursday, February 16, 6–8 pm: Open to the public

Monday, June 5, 9 am–4 pm: Deinstallation begins (assistance by Museum staff may be limited and must be scheduled prior to deinstallation)

Tuesday, June 6, 9 am–4 pm: Deinstallation complete


  • Participants are strongly encouraged to attend a site tour to learn the particulars about each designated site. Tours are scheduled for Sunday, September 25, 1–2 pm and Wednesday, September 28, 12–1 pm. All tours begin in the Chace Center lobby.
  • Interior installation site: Chace Center, 3rd floor. Window area on both sides of the glass bridge between the Chace and Radeke buildings
  • Exterior installation site: Benefit Street. This area is confined to the front of the Radeke Building behind the black iron fence to the left (south) and right (north) of the Museum entrance, excluding the area in front of Pendleton House
  • Performance site: Chace Gallery, Museum 3rd floor
  • Museum website, Create a web-specific project


  1. Read guidelines carefully.
  2. Familiarize yourself with available sites.
  3. Prepare proposal (see instructions below).
  4. Proposals can be submitted no later than 11:59 pm on Friday, October 28, 2016. Late applications will not be considered.

All proposals must include

  • Title
  • Project Narrative One: Aesthetic Statement – Describe the aesthetic behind your proposed piece in 300 words or less. Include the reasons why you chose the site, and how your artistic choices were informed by the site’s inherent characteristics and respond to/comment on the Museum and/or its collections. Describe the intended impact on the viewer.
  • Project Narrative Two: Installation Details – Describe what your proposed piece will look like in 300 words or less: include identification of the site, materials, installation, and deinstallation details. State how your proposal will be implemented and how the site will be returned to its original condition after the exhibition.
  • Budget – Provide a detailed budget supported by written estimates. The budget must reflect the cost of materials, subcontracted labor and any expenses related to installation and deinstallation, including returning the site to its original condition. All budgets will be carefully reviewed by the jurors and Museum staff, who may recommend revisions. Based on the final budget and corresponding receipts, implementation costs of up to $1,000 will be provided. Funds cannot be directly disbursed to the artist. All financial transactions will be handled by the Dorner Prize coordinator, with payments processed through the RISD Business Office.
  • Additional Project Materials – Include a separate sheet listing all accompanying project materials including any electronic, audio/visual, or other equipment.
  • Project Visuals – Include visuals (sketches, drawings, diagrams, renderings, mock-ups, digital submissions etc.) related to the proposed installation.
  • Previous Work Examples – Include up to three images of past work, with titles and dates of work, media, and dimensions. (For those working in collaboration, each artist may submit three visuals of previous work).

Guidelines for Proposals

Guidelines ensure the safety and security of the Museum’s visitors, collections, and staff, as well as the physical integrity of the building. In your proposal, demonstrate consideration for the unique structural qualities of the chosen site, access, traffic flow, public safety, and durability. Consult these links regarding accessible exhibition design, museum accessibility, and the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. Read the guidelines carefully and bear them in mind as you investigate the sites and plan your piece. Proposals that do not comply with the guidelines are unlikely to be chosen.

Read the guidelines for installations inside the Museum on the Chace Bridge and apply now

Read the guidelines for installations outside the Museum on Benefit Street and apply now

Read the guidelines for performance/programming in the Chace Gallery and apply now

Read the Museum website proposal guidelines and apply now