Thursday, November 29, 2012

An institute that explores artistic legacy of Himalayan region

The Rubin Museum of Art in New York has among the largest Western collections of exquisite religious art from captivating cultures of the fascinating Himalayan mountain range. It includes art from Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan apart from the interrelated traditions of Mongolia, China and India.

The museum ensures a dynamic environment that stimulates learning, promotes understanding, and inspires personal connections to the ideas, cultures, and art of Himalayan Asia. The Himalayas are the highest mountains in the world and form an imposing geographical barrier. This has created a cultural threshold between the region and the other great cultures of Asia, allowing for the flourishing of distinctly Himalayan artistic traditions. However, the artistic heritage of this vast and culturally varied area of the world remains relatively obscure.

The collection consists of paintings, sculptures, and textiles. It also includes scroll paintings (thangka) and sculptures from the region, plus a wide variety of artifacts, such as masks, textiles, and illuminated manuscripts. It currently features the permanent collection in two remarkable exhibitions. The first floor houses different art objects intended to introduce this rich heritage. On this floor visitors can get acquainted with the common visual language of Himalayan art, the materials and techniques used in creating these works, and the principal purposes for producing them.

The variety and quality of Himalayan artistic traditions represented in the Rubin Museum's collection are highlighted in ‘Masterworks: Jewels of the Collection’, that introduces the main branches and styles of Himalayan art, their resonance and dialogue with neighboring traditions, and major visual changes over the last millennium.

Through changing exhibitions and an array of engaging public programs, the museum offers opportunities to explore the artistic legacy of the Himalayan region and to appreciate its place in the context of world cultures. The exhibitions are so organized as to assist viewers who are new to Himalayan art. Wall texts and interpretive panels supply aesthetic, social, and historical perspectives to both scholars and casual viewers.

Underlining its philosophy, a museum note elaborates: “We believe in taking an open and active approach to engaging learners at all levels and helping them to understand our world. We do this by encouraging deep connections and transformational experiences in a welcoming, enjoyable, and beautiful environment.”

(Information courtesy: The Rubin Museum of Art)

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