Once Upon Many Times Legends and Myths in Himalayan Art
September 16, 2011 - January 30, 2012
The Himalayan region is home to strong narrative traditions-evidence of which is found in a great number of Himalayan works of art. Once Upon Many Times will present the variety of forms that tell stories of the Buddha, great teachers, legendary masters, spiritual quests, and adventures of heroes painted in thangkas, murals, and told in front of portable shrines.
Historically, illustrative and performed narratives were of particular importance in the Himalayas. In Tibetan areas, for example, teaching storytellers would travel from place to place using scroll paintings and portable sculptures from their traveling shrines to relate much-beloved stories.
Many favorite tales from regularly-performed Tibetan dramas would also often be represented in visual narratives. Of particular note in the exhibition are reproductions of three Lukhang Temple wall murals that provide exceptional examples of illustrations inspired by Tibetan dramas and legends.
This exhibition was funded, in part, by The Achelis Foundation
Curated by Elena Pakhoutova
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Once Upon Many Times: Related Talks and Performances
Wednesday, September 28 at 7 p.m.
The scholar and the stage director debate the "Theater of the Inconceivable" in the first narrative sutra in the Buddhist canon. Learn More
Friday, September 30 & Saturday, October 1 at 7 p.m.
An exploration of the earliest narrative sutra in the Buddhist canon by stage director Peter Sellars, actress Kate Valk, and dancer Michael Schumacher. Learn More
Saturday, October 22 at 8 p.m.
The very popular museum adult sleep-over returns to the Rubin on October 22! If you missed out on this very special event the last time, here is your opportunity to participate. Learn More
Wednesday, October 26 at 7 p.m.
Fantasy in Tibetan and world literature with scholars and writers John Crowley (Yale Professor of Utopian Fiction, and author of Little, Big) and Hamid Dabashi (the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York) and novelist Paul Witcover (Waking Beauty, Tumbling After, and Dracula: Asylum.) Learn More
Wednesdays at 1 p.m.
Short documentary films followed by active discussion sessions. The series currently includes: Lama Mani, two film son the King Gesar epic, and Chaksampa: The Yogi Who Built Iron Bridges. Learn More
Once Upon Many Times: Tours and Education Programs
September 23 – October 27, 2011
Daily at 4 p.m.
Join a museum guide for an in-depth tour of Once Upon Many Times. Tours last approximately thirty minutes. Exhibition tours are free with museum admission and do not require reservations. Learn More
Fee: Free with museum admission
Friday, November 18 at 7 p.m.
American Sign Language (ASL) tours of Once Upon Many Times will be offered on several Friday evenings, in conjunction with the museum's K2 Friday Night experience. ASL tour participants are invited to gather in the K2 Lounge at 6 pm, then join the tour at 7 pm. ASL tours are specifically designed for visitors who are deaf and hard of hearing, affording them a chance to learn about the cultures, history, religions, and sacred art of the Himalayan region. Voice interpretation will not be provided. Learn More
Wednesday, November 9 at 6 p.m.
Curator Elena Pakhoutova presents highlights from the exhibition. Learn More
Fee: Free | Reservations not required
For Teens: Mixed Mythology Teen Art Lab
October 17 – December 19, 2011
Mondays, 4–6:30 p.m.
Every work of art at the Rubin Museum has a story to tell. Come hear tales fit for the gods and play out your own epic scenes to make powerful art. Teen Art Labs offer an opportunity to discuss art critically, think creatively, and work with professional artists. *Registration required. Learn More
Explore select narratives in detail with curator Elena Pakhoutova, in this online version of our exhibition brochure. Launch Interactive
Click here to see the installation of Once Upon Many Times.
Explore a Historical Narrative
Historical Narratives in Himalayan paintings are often presented by depicting multiple episodes from a figure's life. Explore episodes concerning Shantarakshita in this interactive.
Explore a Teaching Narrative
Many Buddhist stories are morality tales that teach about Buddhist notions. The painting in this interactive illustrates three different teaching stories.
Take a Closer Look Booklets
These booklets help to identify a few narratives depicted in selected works from the exhibition. Feel free to download them for reflection at home, or print them out and bring them with you to the museum.