Museum + Library + Nature Lab

The rich and varied programs and collections at RISD’s art museum, library and nature lab support research, intellectual exchange and general knowledge.

  • RISD Museum

    RISD Museum

    As the region’s most comprehensive art museum, this vital cultural resource offers a rich and varied program of exhibitions, special events and publications designed to educate and inspire students, scholars and the larger community in southeastern New England. Founded in 1877 along with the college, the RISD Museum houses seven curatorial departments with approximately 100,000 objects dating from 3700 BCE to the present. Highlights include one of the country’s finest collections of costume and textiles, with more than 26,000 objects; the world’s largest collection of Gorham silver, housed in the first museum wing devoted to American decorative arts; a 12th-century seated Buddha, one of the largest Japanese statues in the US; and significant collections of ancient Egyptian objects, Impressionist paintings, contemporary British art and fine examples of 20th- and 21st-century design.
  • Fleet Library at RISD

    Fleet Library at RISD

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

    Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab

    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.

    Watch There's No Place Like Here, a video about RISD's Nature Lab >
RISD has a long history of offering Saturday and after-school classes for children and teens, as this photo from c. 1910 confirms.