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Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance, 1850–1970

March 13, 2020–June 7, 2020

Purchase TicketsFriends of Decorative Arts and Design | Sound Walk

Press Release | Free for members

This dazzling presentation of exceptional silver and mixed-metal wares casts new light on the legacy of Gorham and reflects the industry, artistry, innovation, and technology of the manufactory for 120 years. Adeptly coupling art and industry, Gorham boldly rose from a small firm, established in 1831 in Providence, Rhode Island, to become the largest silver company in the world, placing uniquely American design on the international stage. Creating everything from commissioned presentation pieces to show-stoppers for the dining room, Gorham responded to the era’s desire to celebrate, feast, socialize, honor, and simply enjoy the everyday in style. 

Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance Lecture with Elizabeth Williams
Thursday, March 12, 7 p.m.
Join Elizabeth Williams, David and Peggy Rockefeller Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the RISD Museum, to learn how Gorham Manufacturing Company put uniquely American designs on the international stage. Fath auditorium. General Admission: $10, Art Museum Members: FREE. Reservations recommended. Purchase tickets

Sketching Tour: Silver & Reflections*
Saturday, March 14, 1–2 p.m.
Discover new ways of looking by drawing the museum's collection with the help of a knowledgeable museum docent. Sketching materials provided. Visitors should meet in the main lobby. FREE. Reservations not required.
*Special exhibition tickets to Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance 1850-1970 sold separately. Purchase tickets here.

Family First Saturday: On the Table
Saturday, April 4, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
Spend the day with your family with free and fun activities for the whole family. Enjoy a special scavenger hunt, performances, hands-on art-making and more. Enjoy special preschool activities from 11:00 a.m–1:00 p.m. FREE. Reservations not required. Special exhibition tickets sold separately. Purchase tickets here.

Artist Workshop: Metal Embossing
Saturday, April 18, 1–3 p.m.
Visitors of all ages are welcome to join us for this workshop led by a local artist. Learn about techniques and materials used by professional artists in these fun, educational and hands-on workshops. Children must be at least 6 years old to participate. General Admission: $12, Art Museum Members: $6. Reservations required. Purchase tickets

Colonial Dames Lecture and Tea: Make a Sterling Impression at the Table
Wednesday, May 6, 2–4 p.m.
“Make a Sterling Impression at the Table” with Jeannine Falino, independent curator and essayist for Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance 1850-1970
In 1868, author James Parton stated, “Show me the way a people dine, and I will tell you their rank among civilized beings.” The dining room was considered the most important room in the house for the display of good manners, and silver became the most desirable medium for expressing gentility, sophistication, and wealth. Silversmithing firms like Gorham met this demand for refined wares with an ever-widening assortment of goods to meet every purpose and purse. Join independent curator Jeannine Falino as she shares her illuminating and sometimes humorous findings on gentility and silver in the American household. Presented by The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Ohio. Colonial Dames Lecture and Tea graciously underwritten by the L. W. Scott Alter Trust. Lecture begins at 2 p.m. in the Fath Auditorium with tea to follow in the Great Hall. General admission: $10, NSCDA Ohio and Art Museum Members: FREE. Reservations required. Purchase tickets 

Public Tour with ASL Interpretation: Gorham Silver*
Saturday, May 16, 1–2 p.m. 
A certified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter joins an Art Museum docent each month for a free tour of one of our special exhibitions. Visitors will meet at the front desk and be led on a tour through the galleries. Reservations not required. ASL Tour is free. *Special exhibition tickets sold separately. Purchase tickets here.

Evenings for Educators: Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance 1850-1970
Thursday, May 21, 4–7 p.m.                                                                                                                                                                Join us for an evening devoted to the decorative arts. Hear from Amy Dehan, Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, about the special exhibition Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance 1850-1970. Then enjoy a docent-guided tour of the exhibition as well as museum teacher stops. General Admission: $20, Art Museum Members: $10, Students: $5. Registration required. Purchase tickets

Co-published by the RISD Museum and Rizzoli Electa, Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance is the first major publication on Gorham in over thirty-five years. This volume features insightful essays with fresh scholarship, accompanied by dazzling new photography of Gorham’s silver as well as archival images, design drawings, casting patterns, and company records. Edited and authored by Elizabeth A. Williams, the David and Peggy Rockefeller Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the RISD Museum, the catalogue also includes contributions from Cincinnati Art Museum curator Amy Miller Dehan and scholars Emily Banas, David L. Barquist, Gerald M. Carbone, Jeannine Falino, Catherine L. Futter, Erik Gould, Ingrid A. Neuman, John W. Smith and Holly Snyder.

Available in March 2020 through the Cincinnati Art Museum store, in person or online.

Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance 1850–1970, organized by the RISD Museum, was made possible by a sponsoring grant from the Henry Luce Foundation with additional support from the Zennovation Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the RISD Museum Associates, Textron Inc., the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, friends and members of the Board of Governors, and a generous in-kind gift from Spencer Marks, Ltd.

This exhibition is generously supported by the John A. Schroth Family Charitable Trust

Presented by:

Additional support provided by:

 The Sutphin Family Foundation

Media sponsor: | The Cincinnati Enquirer