Rhode Island School of Design

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Rhode Island School of Design
Rhode Island School of Design seal.svg
Type Private art school
Established 1877
Endowment $324.9 million[1]
President Rosanne Somerson
Academic staff
168 full-time
302 part-time
Students 2,481
Undergraduates 2,014
Postgraduates 467
Location Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Campus Urban
13 acres (53,000 m²)
Acceptance rate 37.2%[2]
Mascot Scrotie (unofficial)
Affiliations AICAD
Website risd.edu

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD, /ˈrɪzdiː/) is a fine arts and design college located in Providence, in the U.S. state of Rhode Island. Known as the leading college of art and design in the United States, RISD is ranked #1 in Business Insider's survey of The World's 25 Best Design Schools.

Founded in 1877, it is located at the base of College Hill; the RISD campus is contiguous with the Brown University campus. The two institutions share social, academic, and community resources and offer joint courses. Applicants to RISD are required to complete RISD's famous two-drawing “hometest.”

Approximately 2,450 students from around the world are enrolled in full-time bachelor's or master's degree programs in a choice of 19 majors. Students value RISD's accomplished faculty of artists and designers, the breadth of its specialized facilities and its hands-on approach to studio-based learning. RISD is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), a consortium of 42 leading art schools in the United States and Canada. It also maintains over 100,000 works of art in the RISD Museum.


Museum of Art
RISD Memorial Hall

The Centennial Women[3] were a group formed to raise funds for a separate Women's Pavilion showcasing women's work at the 1876 Centennial Exposition.[4] In a little over a year the RI women raised over $10,000 with spectacles such a recreation of the burning of the Gaspee that drew a crowd of 9000, the writing and publication of a monthly newspaper, Herald of the Century, and an art exhibition. The Women's Pavilion at the 1876 Centennial successfully highlighted women's "economic right to self-sufficiency" and included exhibits from recently founded design schools, displays of new patents by women entrepreneurs, and a library containing only books written by women. The Rhode Island Centennial Women submitted their newspaper, Herald of the Century, to this Women's Pavilion's library.

RISD auditorium
RISD Store

At the end of the World's Fair, the RI Centennial Women had $1,675 left over and spent some time negotiating how best to memorialize their achievements.[4] Helen Adelia Rowe Metcalf proposed that the group donate the money to found what would become the Rhode Island School of Design, and this option was chosen by a majority of the women on January 11, 1877. The school was incorporated in March 1877[5] and opened its doors the following fall at the Hoppin Homestead in downtown Providence, RI.[6] Metcalf directed the school until her death in 1895. Her daughter, Eliza Greene Metcalf Radeke, then took over until her death in 1931.[7]

RISD College Building

The Rhode Island General Assembly ratified "An Act to Incorporate the Rhode Island School of Design" on March 22, 1877, "[f]or the purpose of aiding in the cultivation of the arts of design." Over the next 129 years, the following original by-laws set forth these following primary objectives:

  1. The instruction of artisans in drawing, painting, modeling, and designing, that they may successfully apply the principles of Art to the requirements of trade and manufacture.
  2. The systematic training of students in the practice of Art, in order that they may understand its principles, give instruction to others, or become artists.
  3. The general advancement of public Art Education, by the exhibition of works of Art and of Art school studies, and by lectures on Art.

Programs of study[edit]


Design Center

RISD is annually ranked as the top art and design school in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranked RISD first amongst Fine Arts programs, above Yale University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.[13] Within subdivisions of Fine Arts, the school was ranked 1st in graphic design, printmaking and industrial design; 2nd in painting; and 3rd in ceramics and photography.[15] In 2015 and 2016, RISD has been ranked amongst the top Art & Design programs by the QS World University Rankings.[14] Its Undergraduate Architecture Program Ranked 7 in DesingIntelligence's ranking of the Top Architecture Schools in the US for 2017.[3] [16]


Concentrations at RISD do not confer a degree; they act like minors at other colleges and universities. Optional, they offer important context and perspective while enriching the overall educational experience both in and beyond the studio.

RISD Museum[edit]

The RISD Museum houses a collection of fine and decorative art objects. The first public galleries opened in 1893.

Past presidents[edit]

Rosanne Somerson 2015–present
John Maeda 2008–2013
E. Roger Mandle 1993–2008
Louis A. Fazzano 1992–1993 (interim president)
Thomas F. Schutte 1983–1992
Lee Hall 1976–1983
Talbot Rantoul 1969–1976
Donald M. Lay, Jr. 1968–1969 (interim president)
Albert Bush-Brown 1962–1968
John R. Frazier 1955–1962
Max W. Sullivan 1947–1955
Helen Metcalf Danforth 1931–1947
Eliza Greene Metcalf Radeke 1913–1931
Isaac Comstock Bates 1907–1913
William Carey Poland 1896–1907
Herbert Warren Ladd 1891–1896
Alfred Henry Littlefield June 11–27, 1890 (resigned)
Royal Chapin Taft 1888–1890
Claudius Buchanan Farnsworth 1877–1888

Fleet Library[edit]

Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon 2015 at the Fleet Library

Founded in 1878, the RISD Library is one of the oldest independent art college libraries in the country. Its more than 150,000 volumes and 400 periodical subscriptions offer unusual depth and richness in the areas of architecture, art, design and photography. The collection provides strong historical and contemporary perspectives, and materials in landscape architecture, ceramics, textiles, and jewelry support upper-level research. The library is also noted for its artist’s book collection, its rare books and outstanding visual resources collections.

A nationally award-winning example of adaptive reuse, this 55,000-sf renovated bank building and second floor houses 130,000 books, 685,000 image and sound holdings, and 1,200 artists books.

Students also have access to Brown University libraries and the Providence Athenaeum.

Nature Lab[edit]

RISD’s Nature Lab is a unique resource for examining, exploring and understanding the patterns, structures and interactions of design in nature. A 1920 graduate of RISD and a long-time faculty member, Edna Lawrence founded the Nature Lab in 1937. Since then its collections – along with specialized microscopes and other equipment for studying them – have continued to grow to include more than 80,000 specimens and other items of natural history. The nature lab also houses live animals and plants, a natural history reference library and clipping file, and archives of slides, tapes, videos and x-ray photographs. Students may borrow selected objects as reference for studio projects.

The Arthur Loeb Science Design collection is housed in the Nature Lab and includes three-dimensional geometric models and two-dimensional patterns found in the natural world.

Notable alumni[edit]

XYZ Magazine[edit]

XYZ Magazine is RISD's primary print publication by and about the school's alumni. It was first published in May 2010, replacing the college’s original magazine, risd views (1995–2009). The magazine encourages the participation of its alumni with the mission "to keep readers informed about the people, projects and passions that make RISD’s creative community so special." The magazine is published twice a year.

Notable current and past faculty[edit]

Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts[edit]

* Commencement speaker

  • Beatrice (Oenslager) Chace


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2014. "Rhode Island School of Design Consolidated Financial Statements June 30, 2014 and 2013" (PDF). Rhode Island School of Design. Retrieved April 10, 2015. 
  2. ^ Google profile
  3. ^ Austin, Nancy. Towards a Genealogy of Visual Culture at the Rhode Island School of Design, 1875–1900. Dissertation, Brown University. Ann Arbor: ProQuest/UMI, 2009. (Publication No. 3370099.)
  4. ^ a b Austin, Nancy. “What a Beginning is Worth”. Infinite Radius. Ed. Dawn Barrett and Andrew Martinez. (Providence: Rhode Island School of Design, 2008) 170–196.
  5. ^ Austin, Nancy. “No Honors to Divide”. Infinite Radius. Ed. Dawn Barrett and Andrew Martinez. (Providence: Rhode Island School of Design, 2008) 197–217.
  6. ^ Austin, Nancy. “A Place for Design: RISD at the Hoppin Homestead, 1878–1893.” Towards a Genealogy of Visual Culture at the Rhode Island School of Design, 1875–1900. Dissertation, Brown University. Ann Arbor: ProQuest/UMI, 2009. (Publication No. 3370099.)
  7. ^ Kirk, Laura Meade (2004-03-21). "From bonnets to baccalaureates". The Providence Journal. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  8. ^ "Concentration | Literary Arts Studies | Academics | RISD". Risd.edu. Retrieved 2015-03-06. 
  9. ^ "RISD". Risd.edu. Retrieved 2015-06-02. 
  10. ^ "RISD". Risd.edu. Retrieved 2015-06-02. 
  11. ^ "RISD". Risd.edu. Retrieved 2015-06-02. 
  12. ^ "Global Luminaries Honored at Commencement 2012 | News | About | RISD". Risd.edu. Retrieved 2015-03-06. 
  13. ^ "RISD". Risd.edu. Retrieved 2015-03-06. 
  14. ^ "Ruth Simmons Keynote Address at Commencement | Press Releases | News | About | RISD". Risd.edu. Retrieved 2015-03-06. 
  15. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-06-02. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  16. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-07-25. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  17. ^ [1] Archived June 2, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  19. ^ [2][dead link]
  20. ^ "Dave Hickey Commencement Speaker". Newswise.com. 2003-04-26. Retrieved 2015-03-06. 
  21. ^ *"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-06-09. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  22. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-07. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  23. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-10-26. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-06-09. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°49′33″N 71°24′28″W / 41.82583°N 71.40778°W / 41.82583; -71.40778