A History of Creative Experimentation

From its incorporation on March 22, 1877, Rhode Island School of Design has stood out as a leader in art and design education, attracting extraordinary people who thrive in its creative culture. As one of the first colleges of its kind in the country – founded simultaneously with the RISD Museum of Art – it has always been something of a maverick.

RISD was founded and nurtured by women – more than 40 years before women in America even gained the right to vote. In 1877, the 34 members of the Rhode Island Women’s Centennial Commission voted to invest their group’s surplus funding of $1,675 in founding Rhode Island School of Design. In doing so, they not only embarked on a radical experiment, but set the school's tone for challenging assumptions that continues to this day.

The men in this 1903 portrait class were serious about the business at hand.