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FLEET LIBRARY | Research Guides

Rhode Island School of Design

Exhibits: Proposal Process


  • Have an idea for an exhibition at the RISD Library?

  • Want to guest curate an exhibition?

  • Interested in making exhibition development part of your course syllabus?



RISD Library requires certain lead times for consideration of proposed exhibitions depending on the size and scale of the project.


For full consideration, proposals for exhibitions in the following spaces require the noted lead time:


  • Second floor exhibitions - Proposals received 1 semester - 6 mos. in advance.

  • First floor exhibitions - Proposals received 1 year in advance.

  • Expanded projects - Proposals received 1.5 years in advance.

Criteria for Selection

Upon receipt of proposals, you will receive a communication from an Exhibition Committee representative to let you know about the review timeline.


During review, committee members take into account the timeline of the proposal, feasibility of budget, any external circumstances such as cooperation of outside partners or loan requests. Additionally, acceptance will depend on the existing exhibitions calendar and the availability of space during specific months and timeframes.


RISD Library selects applications that answer more than one of the following questions:


  • Does the proposed exhibition help the Library achieve the goals of the Exhibition program?

  • Will the exhibition help broaden the audience of Library exhibitions and expand patronage?

  • Does the project propose to use space in interesting ways?

  • Is the topic culturally relevant and thought provoking?

  • Does the project present or utilize new ways of thinking about and looking at collection items?


Exhibitions at RISD Library must present accurate, appropriate, and fully articulated content. The use of organic matter in exhibitions is discouraged to prevent pest infestation. RISD Library reserves the right to reject and/or remove an object from the exhibition based on unstable structure.


External funding for exhibition proposals is encouraged.


RISD Library is able to fund standard expenses for exhibitions (e.g. printing and production of basic mounted labels, posters, lettering and graphics, as well matboard-constructed supports), as long as the number and complexity of requested items falls within the committee’s allotted budget for each exhibition. Budget details will be discussed at the kick-off meeting, if proposals are accepted.


Proposals should include information related to the extent of planned printing and production needs.

What to expect if your proposal is accepted?

  • Kick-off meeting (to include: conservation tutorial; exhibition scope, topic and material list discussion; design ideas walk-through; define regular meeting schedule)

  • Submit final checklist of exhibition items

  • Complete online form for individual label text

  • Submit design files for printing in accordance with size and layout standards

  • Assist with promotion plan


If proposal includes associate events, a plan for event coordination and promotion will be created separately at the kick-off meeting.