The Rubin
Ss image master exhibition v2

Sacred Spaces
with The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room

October 23, 2015 – November 6, 2016

This exhibition reflects on sacred spaces by focusing on devotional activities in awe-inspiring places. In particular the exhibition presents three distinct but related environments shaped by acts of veneration. What spaces are sacred to you?

The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room provides an immersive experience inspired by a traditional shrine that would be used for offering, devotion, prayer, and contemplation. Art and ritual objects are presented as they would be in an elaborate private household shrine. The new fourth-floor installation of the Shrine Room more than doubles the visitor capacity of its previous location.

As atmospheric context for the shrine, visitors are transported to the Himalayas by gazing at a panoramic photograph taken in Mustang, Nepal, by Jaroslav Poncar. This impressive vista evokes the high mountainous landscape in which Tibetan Buddhism developed and still flourishes. According to Himalayan cultures, the landscape is animated and full of life and power. The forces of the ground, water, rocks, mountains, and trees all require acts of devotion to fend off dangers and invite blessings.

Visitors are also invited to contemplate a video installation created by Deidi von Schaewen. The work documents a Jain communal ritual in which a massive stone sculpture is anointed every twelve years in Shravanabelgola, Karnataka, India. Devotees pour various offering substances over the figure during the course of four days. The twelve-minute two-channel video installation of this sacred rite presents a mesmerizing display of devotional acts such as ablutions, blessings, and prayers.

To learn more about ways to support this exhibition, contact Nicky Combs, Head of Individual Giving and Major Gifts, at 212.620.5000 x247 or by emailing

Plan your visit

From October 18, 2016 - November 6, 2016, side galleries will be temporarily closed for rotation. The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room will remain open during this period.

Location, Hours, and Admission

Group Reservations

Dining at Café Serai

Regular Gallery Tours

What is your sacred space?

More than 8,000 visitors to the Rubin's Sacred Spaces exhibition have shared very personal, often moving notes about their most meaningful spaces. This video captures some of our favorites. Contribute your own sacred space on our 4th floor or on Instagram, using #SacredSpaces.

Collected Spaces

Collected Spaces

Where is your sacred space? Reflect on the spaces that are meaningful to you in the exhibition Sacred Spaces and then contribute your own. Share on paper in the gallery or add to the collection online with the hashtag #SacredSpaces. The sea of spaces from our visitors are being documented on Instagram @CollectedSpaces.

Go Inside the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room

Go Inside the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room

As the featured installation of Sacred Spaces, the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room evokes the aesthetics and atmosphere of a traditional Tibetan sacred space and offers visitors the opportunity to experience Tibetan religious art in its cultural context. There are many kinds of Tibetan Buddhist shrines, from humble home altars to lavish temples, but the Rubin Museum’s Shrine Room installation is modeled on an affluent household shrine. It includes more than one hundred objects, largely from the Museum’s collection, including sculptures, paintings, offering bowls, musical instruments, and ritual objects. Take a virtual tour of the Shrine Room to learn more about the objects, which reflect particular teachings, practices, and lineage transmissions, and are used in daily worship and rituals.

Curated by Elena Pakhoutova


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