Object Lessons

Object Lessons is an ongoing video series on the RISD Museum website that focuses on works in the collection and offers new perspectives. The launch of this series corresponded to the opening of a cross-curatorial project that reinterprets our European collection.

In these short videos, curators and other experts take a deep dive to consider what histories are told, who tells them, and what we can learn from them. Object Lessons focus on the context in which the objects originally functioned, the materials and skills used to make them, the training of artists and designers, the complex relationships between cultures and between makers and their patrons, artists and empires, and innovation and manufacturing. These juxtapositions highlight how objects reflect complex networks of trade, influence, belief, materials, and innovation.

Giving significant consideration to the visual styling, the series presents illustrative narratives and intimate conversations with experts that viewers are unable to access through gallery labels. Engaging, dynamic, and visually appealing, the videos answer key questions and encourage moments close looking.

Decorative arts curator Elizabeth Williams introduces a micromosaic tabletop from Rome; a marble table with elaborate decorations of inlaid precious stones and pictures, among the most prized souvenirs available to 19th-century tourists.

Curator Laurie Brewer investigates a Dutch/Flemish portrait from the mid-15th to16th century. Learn about how flax and wool were manufactured and dyed, and the information textiles give us about the woman in the portrait.

Curator of painting and sculpture Maureen O'Brien discusses the innovative techniques Berthe Morisot employed in the construction of Child in a Red Apron.

Decorative arts curator Emily Banas explores the history and inner-workings of this technically complex piece of furniture, which is hiding more than meets the eye.



Jeremy Radtke (Creative Direction)
Sarah Ganz Blythe (Program and Design Management)
Derek Schusterbauer (Titles Design)
Rocio Delaloye (Video Production)
Brendan Campbell (Videography)
Carson Evans (Video Editing)