department of art & art history

FIne Arts Center, 105 Upper College Road, Kingston, RI 02881 – 401.874.5821

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Ronald J. Onorato

  • Professor/Department Chair - Art and Architectural History
  • Phone: 401.874.2769
  • Fax: 401.874.2729
  • Email:
  • Mailing Address: Fine Arts Center
    105 Upper College Road
    Kingston, RI 02881


A professor of art and architectural history at the University of Rhode Island, Ronald J. Onorato also serves as the chair of the University’s Department of Art and Art History.

In addition to teaching introductory courses surveying the Renaissance to modern art, his teachings cover a broad range of courses from American and contemporary art and architectural history to the history of photography, film history and American material culture.

Onorato also teaches several field courses every year on Newport architecture and other New England topics with site visits ranging from graveyards and colonial townscapes to industrial sites, sculptural monuments and historical districts. He is a nationally known expert on the architectural and sculptural heritage of Newport from the colonial period to the present and is an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects, Rhode Island Chapter.

A faculty member of the University Honors Program, he teaches a special art-history–based seminar every year for honors students. He has held positions in a number of art museums including senior curator at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art in California and at the New York Cultural Center in Manhattan, and as a principal investigator on several projects from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Onorato has been the recipient of fellowships from the Wyeth Foundation, the Prince Foundation and the URI Humanities Center. Serving on the Rhode Island Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission, he is also a member of the National Register of Historic Places review board. He has been a member of the Rhode Island Historic Cemetery Commission and a board officer of several art and historical organizations including the Newport Historical Society, the Newport Art Museum and the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society.


  • AIA Guide to Newport, American Institute of Architects, Providence, 2007
  • Buildings of Rhode Island, Oxford University Press, New York, 2004 (contributing editor with William Mackenzie Woodward and William Jordy).
  • The Newport Career of John Dixon Johnston, Newport History, Spring 2008

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