The Rubin Museum specializes in the art of the Himalayas, defining the Himalayas broadly to include India and Mongolia as well as Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. Most of the space is devoted to temporary exhibits, drawn either from the museum’s own excellent collection or from outside lenders, with several exhibits running at any given time. The exhibits often include videos.
For example, the day we were there was an exhibit, borrowed from a museum in Vienna, on the Naga peoples of far eastern India. This exhibit included beautiful statues and textiles, some fascinating videos depicting Naga ceremonies, and even a couple of human skulls turned into artworks (the Naga are, or at least were, headhunters).
The display at the Rubin is magnificent. The building is a former department store adapted perfectly to museum use. Every item on display is well-lit and given ample space in which to breathe.
The bookstore has a superb collection of Himalayan-related items – books, CDs, textiles, reproductions. The museum’s Café Serai serves delicious South Asian food.
We visited on a Sunday in September, and there were only a few other visitors. On the one hand, it’s a delight to spend time in a first-class museum so uncrowded. On the other hand, a museum this good should be better-known and better-attended.
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