Rubin Museum of Art Launches Himalayan Art and Cultures Initiative – Buddhistdoor Global


The Rubin Museum of Art in New York has announced a new initiative, called Project Himalayan Art, which will offer resources for teaching the art of Tibet, Inner Asia and the wider Himalayan region. The resources will consist of three key parts: a multi-author and interdisciplinary introduction to Himalayan art and cultures, a traveling exhibition, and a digital platform with free resources. The Himalayan Art project is set to launch in 2023, with exhibition dates in multiple US cities.

In a statement shared with BDG, the museum noted the current state of limited resources for teaching Himalayan art and culture. Project Himalayan Art’s goal will be to remedy this problem for future educators and students. The initiative is led by Elena Pakhoutova and Karl Debreczeny, senior curators at the Rubin Museum, as well as advisory groups from several academic disciplines.

According to Pakhoutova: “The absence of Himalayan art and cultures from most educational programs in the United States is a missed opportunity to engage in the significant contributions of these artistic traditions to global culture in the context wider Asia. This omission also runs the risk of typing and cultural erasure.

The Himalayan Art Project began in 2019 and has grown over the past three years, drawing on input from over 250 educators, institutions and other experts. The project received a four-year, $500,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to fund the traveling exhibit and online resources.

A forthcoming publication, Himalayan art in 108 objects, will strive to place each object in a rich historical context. To do this, experts will detail the religious, literary and material culture that contributed to the creation of each object. The work will span from the Neolithic period to the present day and will include paintings, drawings, maps, architecture, sculpture and ritual objects, as well as common everyday objects. The work will show the transfer of cultures across the Himalayas, which has been both a source of rich cultures and an important crossroads for travel, trade and pilgrimage from across Central, East and South Asia.

“In short, the goal of the Himalayan Art project is to emphasize connectivity and cultural exchange and demonstrate that these connected traditions extend far beyond the Himalayan mountain range – and even the Tibetan plateau. – playing an important role in Asia,” said Karl Debreczeny, senior curator at the Rubin Museum. The goal of the digital platform is to provide an accessible resource for educators and scholars, as well as the public. On the website, materials will be curated to allow people to explore Himalayan art and culture at their own pace. Content will include overviews, in-depth essays, videos, animations, maps, audio clips, as well as educational guides for educators.

Mountain god Kula Khari, Tibet, 19th century. Terracotta and pigments, 25 x 21 x 12 centimeters. At
Achala, Tangut Xixia, early to mid-13th century. Kesisilk tapestry with seed beads, 90 x 56 centimeters. Potala Palace Collection. At

Rubin Museum Executive Director Jorrit Britschgi said, “The Himalayan Art Project is the Rubin Museum’s most ambitious contribution and investment in Himalayan art and cultures to date. It will be a major resource for the next generation of students, educators, artists and the interested public for decades to come. He continued, “The Himalayan Art project is also a defining part of our growing focus on global initiatives, such as the inaugural Nepal Pavilion in Venice, our partnership with Itum Bahal in Kathmandu, Nepal, and the first presentation of the new Traveling Mandala Lab in Bilbao, Spain – which deepen the understanding and appreciation of Himalayan art, ideas and cultures around the world with well-researched, accessible and transformative content accessible to audiences beyond the museum.

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Himalayan Art Project (Rubin Museum)

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