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Publication Date: 2014-04-08


RISD Museum Presents “Making It in America”

For “Making It in America”, curators at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum selected artwork, furniture and objects from their collection, and with the collaboration of New York decorator Thomas Jayne, created a wonderful exhibition that illuminates connections between American ambitions and the making of art.

The School, and the lesser known Museum, were created in the same breath in 1877 with a modest sum of money left over after Rhode Island’s participation in the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. With a mission to train American designers and to promote American art, an impassioned and sophisticated group of committed founders began what is now an encyclopedic collection with more than 90,000 extraordinary objects.

For “Making It in America”, museum curators Elizabeth Williams (Decorative Arts), and Maureen O’Brien (Painting & Sculpture) selected more than 100 outstanding works, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from the RISD Museum’s excellent collection.

The exceptional objects from the Museum’s collection includes items from pre-Revolutionary times to the early 20th century; revealing both developments in art and design, and the high aspirations of both the maker and collectors for high style and finely crafted art and furnishings, and America’s search for freedom, fulfillment and identity.

Some years ago I invited to join the Board of the RISD Museum of Art, giving me a perfect reason (and excuse) to visit Providence a few times a year ever since – it has been a deeply satisfying experience that will be the focus of future posts here. If you find yourself in the Providence area, visit the exhibition: for the design aficionado it’s a worthwhile trip.


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