17th century Central Tibetan thanka of Guhyasamaja Akshobhyavajra, Rubin Museum of Art [1].

The Rubin Museum of Art is a nonprofit cultural and educational institution dedicated to the art of the Himalayas. Its mission is to establish, present, preserve, and document a permanent collection that reflects the vitality, complexity, and historical significance of Himalayan art and to create exhibitions and programs designed to explore connections with other world cultures. The Rubin Museum is committed to addressing a diverse audience—from connoisseurs and scholars to the general public. Through its collection, exhibitions, and programs, the Rubin Museum is an international center for the preservation, study, and enjoyment of Himalayan art.

History[edit | edit source]

The museum, which opened in 2004, is located in New York City, on 17th Street in the Chelsea neighborhood.[1] The museum originated from a private collection of Himalayan art which Donald Rubin, the founder of MultiPlan Inc., and his wife Shelley had been assembling since 1974. In 1998, the Rubins purchased, for US$22 million, the building that had been occupied by Barneys New York, a department store for designer fashion which had filed for bankruptcy. The building was remodeled as a museum by preservation architects Beyer Blinder Belle. The original six-story spiral staircase was left intact to become the center of the 25,000 square feet (2,300 square metres) of exhibition space.

The museum displays more than 1,000 objects including paintings, sculpture, textiles, as well as ritual objects from the 2nd to the 20th centuries. The new facade on 17th Street and the five floors of galleries were influenced by Tibetan art, and were conceived by the New York-based museum architects Celia Imrey and Tim Culbert. The graphic identity was conceived by graphic designer Milton Glaser.

Besides exhibitions based on the museum's permanent collection, it also serves as a venue for national and international traveling exhibitions. The museum is affiliated with two organizations: the Tibetan Buddhist Resources Center[2] and the Himalayan Art website to advance the study of Himalayan arts and culture.[3]

In 2011, the museum announced that founders Donald and Shelley Rubin would give a five-year, $25 million gift to support operations, exhibitions, and programs. Donald Rubin also planned to step down as chief executive, although the couple were to continue to lead the museum's board.[4]

Exhibitions[edit | edit source]

Among the museum's inaugural exhibitions were "Methods of Transcendance" and "Portraits of Transmission" (both October 2, 2004-January 10, 2005) and "The Demonic Divine in Himalayan Art" (October 2, 2004-March 13, 2006).[5][6] In 2006, a three-part exhibition called "Holy Madness" spotlighted siddhas with "Portraits of Tantric Siddhas," "Mahasiddhas at Gyantse," and "Mahasiddhas at Alchi." Not limited in its focus to Buddhist and Hindu religious objects, "I See No Stranger: Early Sikh Art and Devotion" (September 2006-January 2007), "Bon: The Magic Word" (November 2007-February 2008), and "Victorious Ones: Jain Images of Perfection" (September 2009-February 2010) exhibited works related to each of those faiths.

In 2010, the "Gateway to Himalayan Art" exhibition opened on the museum's second floor. Presenting the fundamentals of Himalayan art, it explains the symbolism, iconography, and ritual implements in the artworks as well as the materials from which they are made.[7] The exhibit was to remain on view until 2014, with yearly rotations of specific objects. A two-year exhibit on the third floor, "Masterworks: Jewels of the Collection" (March 2011-January 2013), highlights the stylistic diversity of the museum's holdings and the connections between Himalayan and neighboring artistic traditions.[8]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Kanter, Evelyn (2010). Peaceful Places: New York City: 129 Tranquil Sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Menasha Ridge Press.
  2. Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center website.
  3. Himalayan Art website.
  4. Kennedy, Randy (October 20, 2011). Rubin Museum Will Get $25 Million and a New Chief Executive.
  5. Rubin Museum of Art: The First Five Years. Rubin Museum of Art (2010).
  6. Linrothe, Robert N., Watt, Jeff, and Rhie, Marilyn M. (2004). Demonic Divine: Himalayan Art and Beyond. Rubin Museum of Art and Serindia Publications.
  7. Karlins, N. F. (September 14, 2010). Gateway to the Himalayas. artnet.com.
  8. Rubin Museum of Art: Exhibitions.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.