Dorner Prize

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only proposals that use virtual platforms can be considered (details below).

Dorner Prize is awarded annually to RISD undergraduate and graduate students for temporary, site-specific projects at the RISD Museum. These artistic interventions may take the form of physical, digital, or programmatic encounters, that examine or critique the Museum’s historical and contemporary contexts, collections, architectural idiosyncrasies, habits of visitation, and/or web presence.
Submissions are reviewed by a jury of RISD professors, Museum staff, and local artists and two winners receive cash prizes and implementation funds. The winning artists work with Museum staff during each phase of the development process and are celebrated with online promotion and public events.
Dorner Prize, first established in 1995 as the Sitings exhibition, was named for distinguished RISD Museum director Alexander Dorner (tenure 1938–1941), and is made possible by a generous anonymous gift.

Recent winning entries include
Lost in Translation
White Wall
Draft Catalog

Winning Dorner Prize projects are on view April through June 2021.
Jurors for the Dorner Prize 2021 are Rachel Rosenkrantz, Assistant Professor, Experimental and Foundation Studies, RISD and Dominic Molon, Curator of Contemporary Art, RISD Museum.

Cash Prize: $500; Implementation Funds: up to $1000
Application deadline: Sunday, February 7, 2021, 11:59 pm (EST)
Please direct questions to


For 2021, only proposals that use virtual platforms can be considered.

Who may participate?
Any RISD undergraduate or graduate student 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 Museum contexts, spaces, and/or collection
Strength of the proposal: clarity of presentation, adherence to guidelines including the physical and logistical feasibility for creation and installation
Originality: sensitivity to site, use of materials
Jurors select a group of finalists. Finalists are notified and scheduled to meet with the jurors to discuss their proposals. Two proposals are selected as winners.

What are my responsibilities if I am a winner?
Enter into a contract with the Museum specifying responsibilities.
Execute temporary projects as presented to the jurors, making only those modifications required and reviewed by the jurors and Museum staff.
Participate in at least two scheduled planning meetings and a studio visit with Museum staff.
Install and deinstall 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.
Share inspiration and process with the public in informal, brief gallery talks (Work in Process program format) at mutually convenient times during the spring semester.


For 2021, only proposals that use virtual platforms can be considered.

Review the dates below to ensure that you are available for the jury interview, installation planning meeting, installation, and deinstallation. All interactions will be conducted on Zoom. All times are Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Site tours and office hours
Applicants learn about available spaces for projects and ask questions before submitting their application. Use this link to access any meeting listed below:
Thursday, January 14, 2021, 12–1 pm
Wednesday, January 20, 7–8 pm
Friday, January 22, 12–1 pm
Wednesday, January 27, 12–1 pm

Application deadline
Sunday, February 7, 2021, 11:59 pm (EST)
Late applications are unable to be considered.

Finalists interviews with jurors
Week of February 22, 2021 (Interviews are 30 minutes and likely appointment dates are Thursday, February 25 or Friday, February 26 between 9 am–5 pm)

Project planning meeting by appointment
Week of March 8, 2021

Visit to winning artists’ studios by curator and installation staff by appointment
Week of March 22, 2021

Installation begins (assistance by Museum staff will be limited and scheduled prior to installation)
Week of April 5, 2021

Dorner Prize open to the public
     Dorner Prize digital project open to the public
     Friday, April 9, 2021, 10 am

     Dorner Prize virtual public program
     Scheduled during April 2021

Public gallery talk reflecting on projects
During April 2021 (specific date TBD)

Deinstallation begins (assistance by Museum staff will be limited and scheduled prior to deinstallation)
Week of June 28, 2021, 9 am–4 pm

Deinstallation complete
Wednesday, June 30, 2021, 10 am


For 2021, only proposals that use virtual platforms can be considered.

Read the Guidelines, Locations, and Application section carefully.
Familiarize yourself with available sites.
Prepare proposal (see instructions below).
Proposals must be submitted no later than 11:59 pm on Sunday, February 7, 2021 (EST). Late applications are unable to be considered.

All proposals must include

Contact Information

Project Title

Project Site

Project Description
Describe your project in 300 words or less. Include how your project: comments on the Museum; engages with the public and impacts the viewer; and was informed by the site’s inherent characteristics 

Installation Details
Describe how your project will be experienced and appear in 300 words or less. Include: identification of the site; materials; work plan, along with installation/deinstallation details; and accessibility considerations. State how your project will be implemented and how the site will be returned to its original condition after the installation.

Project Visuals
Include sketches, drawings, diagrams, renderings, mock-ups, digital submissions etc. to help the jury understand your vision.

Provide a detailed budget supported by written estimates reflecting the cost of materials, subcontracted labor, and any expenses related to the project, 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.

Environmental and Sustainability Considerations
In 150 words or less, how are you taking into consideration the impact of your project on carbon footprint/climate/environment? What steps can you take to minimize the impact that your project and process will have on the climate emergency?

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). Redact names on these files.


For 2021, only proposals that use virtual platforms can be considered.

Read the guidelines in the links below carefully and bear them in mind as you investigate the sites and plan your project. Proposals that comply with the guidelines have the best chances to be selected.

Participants are strongly encouraged to attend a site tour and visit the spaces to learn the particulars about each designated site (see Site Tour dates in What Dates section).

Guidelines ensure the safety and security of the Museum’s visitors, collections, and staff, as well as the physical integrity of the building and digital spaces. In your proposal, demonstrate consideration for the unique structural qualities of the chosen site, access, traffic flow, public safety, and durability.

Consult these links for environmental sustainability resources, accessible exhibition design, museum accessibility, and the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design.