Skip to main content

Hans Christensen silverwork

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RITArt-0015

Scope and Contents

Hans Christensen silverwork consists of 13 pieces.

Presidential silver pieces include a ceremonial mace that was made in honor of Mark Ellingson, president of the Rochester Institute of Technology from 1936-1969. It was commissioned by the Board of Trustees and presented to Ellingson in 1967 in honor of his 30th anniversary as president of RIT. According to the Summer 1967 RIT Reporter, the mace was to be "prominently displayed in all assemblies and convocations, and carried at the head of all formal processions signifying the authority, purpose, stability and continuity of the Institute's activities." The Academic Collar is a symbol of the Office of the President and is presented to the incoming president by the Board of Trustees during his or her inauguration.

In 1970, three School for American Craftsmen faculty were commissioned by the RIT Women's Council to create furnishings used to transform Ingle Auditorium into a place of worship each weekend. William Keyser, Donald Bujnowski, and Christensen contributed to this effort. Christensen created a chalice, ciboria, paten, and set of two candlesticks and candle douters. These pieces, along with those by Keyser and Bujnowski, were used in the Interfaith Chapel.

Three bowls include:

1. Outstanding Alumni Award given to Irene Muntz in 1955.

2. Outstanding Alumni Award given to Fred H. Gordon,

3. RIT commemorative bowl

1 Stabile, a Nathaniel Rochester Society Award, presented to Arthur M. Lowenthal, April 14, 1983.


  • Creation: circa 1960-1970


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

Hans Jorgen Thorvald Christensen (1924-1983) was born in Copenhagen, Denmark on January 21, 1924. An aspiring artist, Christensen was exposed to the world of art from a young age. His father, Holger, was an accountant with clients involved in the fields of art and architecture, while his mother, Valborg (née Makkenbol) also expressed interest in the field. Although Holger wanted his son to enter the business world, he supported his son's interest in the art-field, pushing him toward a career in silversmithing.

In 1939, Christensen started as an apprentice at the world-renowned Georg Jensen Silversmithy, while simultaneously taking classes at the School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen. His journeyman project – a teapot – not only earned him his silversmith certificate on March 30, 1944, but also won him two silver medallions. A rare accomplishment, these two awards were given in the categories of design and execution and were presented by King Frederick IX of Denmark.

Christensen continued working at Georg Jensen Silversmithy in the prototype department. In 1952, he traveled to the United States as a representative for an exhibition of Jensen factory works at the Museum of Modern Art. Although encouraged to stay in America, Christensen returned to Denmark. From 1952-1954, he worked as the lead silversmith in the prototype department and in 1953 he earned the equivalent of a master's degree in the field.

Christensen immigrated to the United States in 1954 when he accepted a faculty position at the School for the American Craftsman at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He was named professor in 1963 and was chosen for the Charlotte Fredericks Mowris Professorship in Contemporary Arts in 1976 as its first recipient. Christensen taught at the school for 29 years until his untimely death in an automobile accident on January 16, 1983. He was awarded the Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching by RIT posthumously in 1983.

A distinguished artist, Christensen earned many honors throughout his lifetime. He was awarded membership into the International Institute of Arts and Letter in Switzerland (1960) and the College of Fellows of the American Crafts Council (1979), as well as the Guldsmedehoikoleforeningen, Copenhagen, the Society of North American Goldsmiths, and the Nathaniel Rochester Society. In 1979, he was also chosen to represent Rochester, NY at the Rennes World Trade Fair held in Rennes, France. Internationally-renowned, Christensen's works are included in the collections of various royal families including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, England, and Iran, as well as the Vatican.


13 Item(s) (1 Mace, 1 Chalice, 2 Ciboria, 1 Paten, 2 Candlesticks, 3 Bowls, 1 Collar, 2 Candle Douters, 1 Stabile)




13 pieces of silver craft by Hans Christensen. Pieces were created for the RIT President, Chapel, and awards.


Silver pieces are stored separately.

Physical Location

C.S. North, Shelf 74, 75, 81 (with Art on Campus collection)

Related Materials


  • Hans Christensen at Art on Campus, Rochester Institute of Technology.


Silver pieces vary in size: 5 x 7 to 1 x 31 inches.

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Amy Vilz in August 2011.

Hans Christensen silver
RIT Art Collection
Amy Vilz
25 August 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA