Step into ‘Gateway to Himalayan Art’ at Rubin Museum of Art




Teacher Jigme Lingpa (1729-1798) Tibet; 18th-19th century; Metal alloy; C2002.29.2 (HAR 65159)

Gateway to Himalayan Art, an ongoing, permanent collection exhibition, introduces viewers to the main forms, concepts, meanings, and traditions of Himalayan art represented in the Rubin Museum collection.

Bodhisattva Maitreya,, Kham Province, Eastern Tibet; 19th century; Pigments ann cloth; C2002.35.2 (HAR 65201)

The exhibition includes a large multimedia map that highlights regions of the diverse Himalayan cultural sphere, including parts of present-day India, China, Nepal, Bhutan, and Mongolia. Gateway invites you to explore exemplary objects from the Museum’s collection, organized and presented in thematic sections: Figures and Symbols, Materials and Techniques, and Purpose and Function.

Tsa Tsa Mold of Ganesha; Himalayan region; 15th-19th century; Copper alloy; C2006.63.9 (HAR 65748)

In addition to sculptures and paintings, objects such as a stupa, prayer wheel, and ritual implements demonstrate how patrons sought the accumulation of merit and hoped for wealth, long life, and spiritual gains, all to be fulfilled through the ritual use of these objects and commissioning works of art.

Among the featured installations are a display that explains the process of Nepalese lost-wax metal casting and a presentation of the stages of Tibetan hanging scroll painting (thangka). You will also encounter life-size reproductions of murals from Tibet’s Lukhang Temple, photographed by Thomas Laird and Clint Clemens.

Indra, Nepal; 16th century; Gilt copper alloy; C2005.16.44 (HAR 65467)

Coming up at The Rubin, Project Himalayan Art, an integrated 3-part initiative: a cross-disciplinary publication, an online platform, and a traveling exhibition, designed to encourage the incorporation of Himalayan, Tibetan, and Inner Asian art and cultures into humanities and liberal arts teaching curricula on Asia in higher education.

This initiative seeks to remedy the underrepresentation of this area, due in large part to the lack of introductory resources for teaching Himalayan Art. The project’s strategy is to work with faculty to create content for teaching on Asia within a wide range of disciplines, including history, religion, art, and anthropology, offering material to enrich existing curricula within diverse institutional settings.

Damchen Garwai Nagpo; China; 18th century; Gilt brass; C2005.16.65 (HAR 65488)

The publication Himalayan Art in 108 Objects is an object-centered introduction to Himalayan art and culture from the Neolithic to contemporary times focusing on cross-cultural exchange, with contributions from more than 70 international scholars from a wide range of disciplines.

The digital platform will be structured to meet the needs of both general audience and educators, and will be accessed through a user-friendly portal. The digital content will enable teachers to seamlessly source material on Himalayan art and cultures for their classes in a range of disciplines, including philosophy, anthropology, archeology, geography, history, art, and religion. The platform will also include digital components for the traveling exhibition, online collection materials, and new resources such as an interactive map, related contextual objects, and videos of rituals and art-making technologies.

Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngagwang Lobbing Gyatso (1617-1682); Tibet; 17 century; Gilt copper alloy; C2006.38.2 (HAR 65647)

The traveling exhibition, Gateway to Himalayan Art, serves as an entry point to the fundamentals of Himalayan art and cultures and draws from the Rubin Museum’s collection. It integrates the related print (publication) and digital material (digital platform), including first-person voices from Himalayan and Inner Asian communities, artists, and religious practitioners as in-gallery and online experiences. Its flexible and scalable thematic structure includes 3 areas of focus: Symbols and Meanings, Materials and Technologies, and Living Practices, and can be adapted to the unique needs of each host institution.

STORIES OF PREVIOUS LIVES OF THE BUDDHA (JATAKA) Tibet; 18th century Pigments on cloth C2007.33.1 (HAR 65816) Tales of Buddha Shakyamuni’s past lives are some of the most well-known narratives in Himalayan culture. They are often presented across a series of paintings, with each painting illustrating several narratives from the whole collection of stories. The narrative scenes are usually arranged around a central image of the Buddha and visually separated by landscape elements. The traditional set of tales includes the stories of the Buddha’s previous lives as a bodhisattva, king, merchant, and animal

Gateway to Himalayan Art is currently scheduled to travel from 2023 to 2026 to the following locations:

  • Lehigh University Art Galleries, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, January 2023
  • McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, Boston, MA, fall 2023
  • Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, spring 2024
  • The Frank Museum of Art, Otterbein University, Westerville, OH, fall 2024
  • Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, spring 2025
Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room inside The Rubin Museum of Art

The Rubin Museum of Art is located at 150 West 17th Street, NYC. While you’re there, take refuge in the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room; the entire third floor, now the Mandala Lab; Healing Practices: Stories from Himalayan Americans; and don’t miss K2 Friday Nights ~ Free admissions, cocktails, DJs, and more.

Can’t make it? Look inside The Rubin Museum of Art online collection.

A look-back at The Rubin Museum of Art exhibitions and programs.

Follow The Rubin Museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.