20 North Main St (also enter on 224 Benefit Street) Providence, RI 02903

Open today 10 am–5 pm


Today is October 17, 2017. Open today 10 am–5 pm

Design the Night: It's a Circus

August 21, 2014, 5 – 9 pm
Museum Galleries
  • RISDM 1987-058

Henri Matisse, The Nightmare of the White Elephant (Le Cauchemar de l’éléphant blanc), 1947. © Henri Matisse. Mary B. Jackson Fund.

Join us for an evening of merriment as we celebrate the new exhibition Circus. Be entertained by a variety of performers, create a wearable circus artwork, and enjoy a short tour focused on leisure time pursuits.


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Support for Design the Night and Summer at the Museum is provided by the Providence Tourism Council and the City of Providence. Circus is made possible by the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Harlan & Amy Korenvaes Family Foundation.

Circus on the Plaza
5-8:30 pm | Chace Center Plaza, 20 North Main Street
A custom circus tent, created by pneumatic art and design studio Pneuhaus (RISD alums Matthew Muller and August Lehrecke), sets the stage for an evening of fun. A series of performances on the plaza amuses all ages—including a stilt walker, unicyclist, juggler, tarot card reader, and others. Purchase snacks from Rosie, the RISD food truck, sweet vegan treats from Like No Udder, and libations at a cash bar.

Screenings of Le Grand Cirque Calder 1927
5 pm, 6, pm, 7 pm | Metcalf Auditorium, Chace Center
While living in Paris (1926-1933), American artist Alexander Calder created and famously performed an important and beloved work for many years: his miniature circus. In Le Grand Cirque Calder 1927, French documentary filmmaker Jean Painleve captured Calder playfully manipulating his dozens of elaborate miniatures in front of a small audience of friends—pulling strings, activating levers, turning cranks, and releasing springs. A horse trots around the ring as a trick rider catapults onto its back. Trapeze artists latch arms, fly through the air and then drop into a net. A lion roars before taking its handler’s head in its mouth. A dancer, nude but for some strategically placed fringe, seductively undulates. In the closing act, two chariots and four fleet stallions set off on a sweaty race. (French, 16 mm, 45 mins.)

Artist Tour
5:30-6 pm | Museum Galleries
Visit favorite works with glamorous guest gallery guide Kristen Minsky—RISD alumna and director of Chifferobe Events and vintage dance company The TropiGals.

Office Hours: Questions From a Clown
6-6:30 pm | Grand Gallery
Challenging seriousness with silliness, Dizzy the Clown offers tokens of gratification in exchange for conversations about passions and purpose prompted by specific questions. Performed by artist Kylie Why.

Hands-On Art: Circus Chic
6-8 pm | Danforth Hall & Radeke Garden Flamboyant theatrical accessories make a whimsical style statement. Create your own circus couture - big top chapeaus, collars and cuffs - with provided materials and unlimited creativity. Guidance provided by art instructor, Paul Carpentier. All materials provided, no experience necessary.

Exhibition Tour: Circus
6:30-7 pm | Works on Paper Galleries
Alison Chang, Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow in the RISD Museum’s Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs—and the curator of the new exhibition Circus—leads visitors on a tour of the show.

Art Shots: Art + Entertainment
7-7:30 pm | Meet at Benefit Street entrance
Join guide Victoria Charette in exploring works of art and design from the permanent collection that cross cultures, time periods, and media. Closely examine the complex—and sometimes duplicitous—phenomenon of entertainment, from the circus to dance, music, and more.

What Makes You Colorful?
7 pm | Grand Gallery
What attributes of yours make you colorful and beautiful? Is it a part of your body or something less tangible than a physical feature? Join Dizzy the Clown and her sister, Charlotte, in discovering the answers to these questions in a short puppet performance writte and performed by artist, Kylie Why, featuring Samara Hanon. Following the play, Dizzy and Charlotte will conduct an audience participatory study.

Artist Lab: DANCE of Decadence
7-8:30 pm | Fain Room
Explore pixilation stop-motion animation with artist Xander Marro. She’ll bring the costumes, set, and camera—you bring the body. Together, make a movie!

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