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. Two Dorner Prize winners 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
White Wall
Draft Catalog

Winning Dorner Prize projects are on view Wednesday, February 26 through Sunday, May 31.
Jurors for the Dorner Prize 2020 are Dominic Molon, Curator of Contemporary Art, and Ramon Tejada, Assistant Professor Graphic Design Department, RISD

Cash Prize: $500
Implementation Funds: up to $1000

Please direct questions to


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.

How is the winning project selected?
Evaluation of the proposals is based on the following:
Content: commentary on or response to the Museum spaces and/or its collection
Originality: sensitivity to site, use of materials,
Strength of the proposal: clarity of presentation, adherence to guidelines including physical feasibility for installation
Jurors select a group of finalists. Finalists are notified and scheduled to meet with the jurors in the Museum to discuss their proposals. Two proposals are selected as winners.

Winning artists responsibilities:

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 two scheduled planning meetings and a studio visit with Museum staff. 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 2020. 


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

  • Site tours starting in Chace Center lobby. Applicants learn about available spaces for projects.

Wednesday, December 11 and Thursday, December 12, 2019, 12–1 pm
Thursday, January 9 and Saturday, January 11, 2020, 12–1 pm

  • Office hours in Chace Center lobby. Applicants may ask questions before submitting their application.

Wednesday, January 8 and Friday, January 10, 2020, 12–1 pm

  • Application deadline

Wednesday, January 15, 2020, 11:59 pm

  • Finalists interviews with jurors

Week of January 27, 2020 (likely dates for appointments: Thursday, January 30 or Friday, January 31)

  • Project planning meeting by appointment

Week of February 3, 2020

  • Visit to winning artists’ studios by curator and installation staff by appointment

Week of February 17, 2020

  • Installation begins (assistance by Museum staff will be limited and scheduled prior to installation)

Monday, February 24, 2020

  • Dorner Prize installation open to the public

Wednesday, February 26, 2020, 10 am

  • Public gallery talk

During March 2020 (specific date TBD)

  • Deinstallation begins (assistance by Museum staff will be limited and scheduled prior to deinstallation)

Monday, June 1, 2020, 9 am–4 pm

  • Deinstallation complete

Tuesday, June 2, 2020, 10 am


Proposals must be for new work designed specifically for one of the Museum sites. Participants are strongly encouraged to attend a site tour and visit the spaces to learn the particulars about each designated site.


Read guidelines in Where Can My Work Be Located? section carefully.
Familiarize yourself with available sites.
Prepare proposal (see instructions below).
Links to Apply Now are under specific site guidelines in Where Can My Work Be Located? section.
Proposals can be submitted no later than 11:59 pm on Wednesday, January 15, 2020. Late applications will not be considered.

All proposals must include


  • Project Site
  • Project Description Describe 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.
  • 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.
  • Project Visuals Include sketches, drawings, diagrams, renderings, mock-ups, digital submissions etc. related to the proposed installation
  • Budget Provide a detailed budget supported by written estimates reflecting the cost of materials, subcontracted labor and any expenses related to installation and deinstallation, including returning the site to its original condition. Budgets will be carefully reviewed and may be revised. 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 listing all accompanying project materials including any electronic, audio/visual, or other equipment.
  • 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.