Votive Offerings: Glenn Gissler at RISD Museum

Gissler - Book and Room RISD MuseumGissler - Book and Room RISD Museum

This month, my friend the decorative arts historian Lisa Zeiger wrote an interesting article entitled VOTIVE OFFERINGS: GLENN GISSLER AT RISD about my relationship with my alma mater, the Rhode Island School of Design, and more specifically with the RISD Museum, on her blog BOOK AND ROOM.

As a RISD alum, former board member, and devoted museum donor, it’s been my goal to help give students and visitors the opportunity to experience and draw inspiration from the museum’s collection. Lisa’s post chronicles my decades-long quest to donate notable fine art, industrial design and decorative objects to the RISD Museum, with a personal goal of bequeathing 1000 objects in total. You can read the post by following this link

I lived with many of these items in my NYC apartment before they found a new home at the RISD Museum, including a partners desk with two chairs by Donald Judd, and works on paper by Kiki SmithSol LewittLeon Golub, and Vija Celmins. I also have passed along objects by the 19th century industrial designer Christopher Dresser, and 20th century objects by Josef HoffmannEttore Sottsass, Joe Columbo and Russel Wright.

You’ll find just a selection of my notable donations to the museum below, and if you’re so inclined, you can follow this link to the museum’s website, which shows many more with descriptions and details.

RISD Inaugurates a New President!

Glenn Gissler - Blog - 2015 - RISD

Rosanne Somerson and others on stage at her RISD Inauguration   Photo: Jo Sittenfeld / RISD Media

RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) had much to celebrate with the inauguration of its 17th President this past week. Under an enormous tent near the school’s campus, hundreds of faculty, staff, friends, parents, dignitaries and alumni joyously celebrated. I am grateful to have been there to join the celebration!

After an exhaustive two year global quest to find the next President of America’s oldest art & design school, the President of the Board of Trustees Michael Spalter and his search team found exactly what they were looking for in Providence; they hired truly one of their own – Rosanne Somerson…


Donald Judd – Double Take

Glenn Gissler - Blog - 2015 - CROP-236422



Donald Judd (1928-1994) Chair,1993 – Finish Color Plywood – RISD Museum


A double take is an act of quickly looking at something that is surprising or unusual a second time after looking at it a moment earlier.


The RISD Museum often focuses attention on a single object in an exciting program they call ‘DOUBLE TAKE’ where two different art/design educators or curators offer different perspectives or ‘takes’ on a single object in the museum collection. I have seen a number of these dialogues, they are fantastic!

One the items being featured in a new series DOUBLE TAKE: COLOR is a chair that I gave to the Museum designed by Donald Judd


Reinvention at the RISD Museum

Glenn Gissler - Blog - 2014 - RISD Museum - Hudner Buddha Gallery

…an old friend at the RISD Museum received a facelift…

I had the good fortune to study architecture and fine arts at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD – pronounced ‘riz-dee’) – a small, very old school located in the smallest state in America.

It was in 1877 that RISD, and the RISD Museum were created by a group of visionary Providence, Rhode Island women. The school is extremely well-known however the MUCH lesser known museum remains a ‘secret’ – but not for long!

The 137 year old museum’s collection now has over 91,000 objects and is housed in more than 72,000 square feet in three historic and two contemporary buildings at the heart of the RISD campus; with a curatorial staff numbering 10 as well as an additional 75 members of the Museum team, including the director John W. Smith.  It is the 3rd largest college museum in the world (behind Harvard and Yale).

In seeking a way to give back to the school and museum that has given me so much, five years ago I joined the Board of the museum: it has been one of the most rewarding and satisfying things that I have done in my life.

Last week I attended the unveiling of the newly renovated floor of the Radeke Building at the RISD Museum…


A Visit With The Curator of Decorative Arts & Design at The RISD Museum of Art

Glenn Gissler - Blog - 2014 - Elizabeth Williams RISD Museum - 640x426

Last week, Elizabeth Williams, the Curator of Decorative Arts & Design at the RISD Museum visited my design studio to look at a wide range of objects that I am now offering to her department at the Museum.

Some five years ago I was invited to join the Board of the RISD Museum.  As a student at the Rhode Island School of Design I loved, enjoyed and learned a great deal about the history of the Fine and the Decorative Arts at the Museum, so I was happy to offer help and assistance in any way that I could, and was thrilled to have a reason to visit Providence 3-4 times per year.

Over the last 5-10 years I have accumulated lots of objects – of various scales, materials and time periods – that are of specific interest to me.  In the course of my professional life I regularly ‘shop’ and buy items at auction, and have been a very active participant on eBay (another form of auction) for over 14 years.  Many of these items I have purchased for my personal use and pleasure; some I include in design projects; and others have been accumulating in closed cabinets in my office ‘for the Museum’.  I think Elizabeth was surprised to find dozens of items for her review and consideration.