Dorner Prize

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
Complete Definitions
Lost in Translation
White Wall
Draft Catalog

Winning Dorner Prize projects are on view March through June 2022.
Jurors for the Dorner Prize 2022 will be announced in December.

Cash Prize: $500; Implementation Funds: up to $1000
Application deadline: Sunday, February 6, 2022, 11:59 pm (EST)
Please direct questions to


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.


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

Application deadline
Sunday, February 6, 2022, 11:59 pm (EST)
Late applications are unable to be considered.

Finalists interviews with jurors
Week of February 21, 2022 (Interviews are 30 minutes and likely appointment dates are Thursday, February 24 or Friday, February 25 between 9 am–5 pm)

Project planning meeting by appointment
Week of February 28, 2022

Visit to winning artists’ studios by curator and installation staff by appointment
Week of March 14, 2022

Installation begins (assistance by Museum staff will be limited and scheduled prior to installation)
Week of March 28, 2022

Dorner Prize open to the public
March 29, 2022   

Public gallery talk reflecting on projects
During April 2022 (specific date TBD)

Deinstallation begins (assistance by Museum staff will be limited and scheduled prior to deinstallation)
Week of June 6, 2022, 9 am–4 pm

Deinstallation complete
Wednesday, June 7, 2022, 10 am


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 6, 2022 (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.


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.