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FLEET LIBRARY | Research Guides

Rhode Island School of Design

Object Research

A guide to researching art and design objects, utilizing museum and library resources

Museum publications are listed on the museum’s website here and in the Fleet Library’s catalog here.  
In addition to books and websites, the museum produces a wide range of digital and printed content in other forms: online articles, teacher resources, videos, audio soundwalks, and more. You can explore those other formats here.

Museum publications are typically scholarly writing by curators, university faculty and staff, and artists, and are suitable sources for your research. 

If you are researching a specific object, your first stop should be the object page. This page should list publications that include that object, along with links to WorldCat. By clicking the title link and clicking the link to “RISD Library,” you will find the link to the publication’s call number and location in Fleet Library at RISD.

However, many historic museum publications have not been indexed, or have not been linked to the object records in the museum’s database. 


What kind of publications exist, and how could they be useful?

The museum’s current journal, Manual, is thematic and frequently includes object-specific writing and creative projects.


How can I find and navigate these publications?

  • Handbooks and exhibition-specific publications: Browse all museum publications available at RISD Library here: Rhode Island School Of Design Museum Of Art, or by the call number N714.P7. The list is sorted by most recent year first. Other ways to sort are by title, author, year, call number or material type.
    Multiple copies of catalogs are available throughout the library. Reference copies are shelved in the Reference Department on the 1st floor.

If you’re looking for a specific object, a good place to start is with issues published the year your object was acquired, or the year after; new acquisitions were frequently announced and described in the bulletins.

  1. Determine the year your object was acquired by locating its object number on the museum’s website. See this page for an explanation of object numbers and how to determine the year of acquisition. 
  2. Cross-reference this year with the name of the museum bulletin and the name of the database that has indexed content for that year. 
  3. Search the appropriate online database using the exact name of the bulletin in the “source” field and the name of the artist, name of the object, the object number, or other identifying information in the next field:

    You may also search by Subject, Rhode Island School of Design /Museum of Art/Acquisitions or by Keyword, Rhode Island School of Design. You can also search by exhibition title, year of exhibition, or museum staff members’ names. Is the title a translation? Search in English and the original language. Watch for variant words. If you cannot find your object, you can also try browsing by year of acquisition.

Need help using the databases? How to Login from Off Campus or email