The Rubin Museum of Art at a Glance
The Rubin Museum of Art opened in October 2004 and is recognized as the premier museum of Himalayan art in the Western world. Founded in 1999 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit trust, the Rubin Museum is governed by an independent Board of Directors which, with its professional staff, seeks to present and preserve a collection that reflects the vitality, complexity, and historical significance of Himalayan art, and to further both the popular appreciation of and scholarly commitment to it. The museum's collection, serene atmosphere, extensive public programming, and educational resources have made it a destination for the diverse communities that live in or travel to New York City, welcoming more than 190,000 visitors each year.
The museum's 70,000 square feet occupy what was formerly a portion of the Barneys department store. 25,000 square feet of gallery space radiate from the Rubin's signature six-level spiral staircase, designed by Andrée Putman and retained from the building's previous incarnation. The galleries are complemented by public spaces, an art-making studio, theater, and a renowned gift shop and café. An Education Center opened adjacent to the museum's primary building in summer 2011.
The museum's collection of more than 2,000 works of art includes some of the finest examples of Himalayan paintings, sculptures, textiles, ritual objects, and prints spanning the 2nd to the 20th century. The geographic scope represented in the museum's collection encompasses the countries and cultures that touch upon the 1,800 mile arc of the Himalayan mountain range that extends from Afghanistan in the northwest to Myanmar (Burma) in the southeast and includes Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, and Bhutan. The larger Himalayan cultural sphere, characterized by significant cultural exchange over millennia, includes Iran, India, China, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia.
On view at any one time are numerous changing exhibitions drawn from the museum's permanent collection and important loans from around the world, with diverse themes ranging from female Buddhas to divine madness to C.G. Jung's Red Book to comparisons of Western and Himalayan cosmologies. The museum offers a number of exhibitions for travel, and also serves as a venue for traveling exhibitions, bringing to New York such critically acclaimed exhibitions as I See No Stranger: Early Sikh Art and Devotion and The Dragon's Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan.
In addition to programs dedicated to the exploration of Himalayan art and cultures, the museum's programming serves as a catalyst for cross-cultural exploration. Hundreds of lectures, discussions, film screenings and musical performances throughout the year often bring together seemingly unrelated themes to exemplify the universality of Himalayan ideas. The annual Brainwave series pairs scientists with personalities from all walks of life to reflect on the interplay of art, meditation, space, and the brain.
A dedication to thoughtful and quality educational offerings is paramount to the museum's mission, and the Rubin Museum encourages life-long learning with an array of on- and off-site education programs. Each gallery floor includes an Explore Area that approaches Himalayan art from a different perspective, acknowledging and catering to the scope of individual learning methods and ensuring that each visitor has a meaningful experience. Museum educators bring the Himalayas into classrooms with a wide range of school programs for children of all ages and backgrounds. Weekly Early Childhood and Family Learning programs encourage exploration, teamwork, and cultural awareness. Art-making workshops are also available for teens and adults.
The museum offers a comprehensive accessibility program for individuals with special needs, language challenges, and at-risk and underserved segments of the population. For visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing, the museum offers American Sign Language interpreted tours and assisted listening devices. For visitors who are blind or partially sighted, the museum offers Verbal Description and Touch Tours and high contrast, large print labels. The museum is wheel chair-accessible and wheelchairs are available.
The museum maintains an active online presence with its website (www.rmanyc.org) and various social media and video sharing sites. The ExploreArt website (www.ExploreArt.org) offers in-depth explanations of Himalayan art as well as provocative comparisons with Western art. In collaboration with two affiliated organizations - the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (www.tbrc.org) and Himalayan Art Resources (www.himalayanart.org) - the Rubin continues to advance the study of Himalayan art and present varied aspects of its exhibitions. These partnerships support the museum's efforts in bridging the gap between scholarship and publicly-accessible information.
Educational and family programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. School programs are made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. The museum is grateful to the New York City Department for the Aging for its promotion of senior programming. Musical performances are funded by The Carlo and Micól Schejola Foundation. Naked Soul and Harlem in the Himalayas are made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts. The concert grand piano is provided by Yamaha. The Rubin Museum is a cultural partner of WQXR. The museum is also supported by other generous corporate and foundation donors, and a dedicated roster of corporate and individual members.
The museum is located at 150 West 17 Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues) in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood. Admission $10 for adults; $5 for seniors and students (with ID); free for museum members; free for seniors the first Monday of every month; free for children 12 and under; free for Cool Culture members. Gallery admission is free to all on Fridays from 6pm to 10pm.
Open Monday 11am to 5pm, Wednesday 11am to 7pm, Thursday 11am to 5pm, Friday 11am to 10pm, Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 6pm; closed on Tuesday. To reach the museum by subway, visitors may take the A, C or E to 14th Street; the 1 to 18th Street; 1, 2, 3 to 14th Street; F and M to 14th Street; N, R, Q, 4, 5 and 6 to 14th or the L to 6th Avenue. By bus, visitors may take the B20 to the corner of 7th Avenue and 17th Street.