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Masterworks of Himalayan Art

April 19, 2019–November 8, 2020

Masterworks will temporarily close after November 8, 2020. The exhibition will reopen in a new location on the Museum’s 5th floor on January 29, 2021.

Masterworks, a regularly changing exhibition at the Rubin, explores major strands in the development of Himalayan art, covering a period of over one thousand years, and presents regional artistic traditions in their broad cultural, geographic, historical, and stylistic contexts. The 2019 iteration of this exhibition draws primarily from the Rubin collection and is augmented by a few select long-term loans.

Masterworks is organized geographically, showcasing the diverse regional traditions of western Tibet, central Tibet, eastern Tibet, and Bhutan in relation to the neighboring areas of Eastern India, Kashmir, Nepal, China, and Mongolia. Highlights from the exhibition include:

  • An elegant 12th-century Lotus Mandala from northeastern India which resembles a flower, with mechanical hinges that allow the petals to open, revealing the central deity surrounded by eight dancing yoginis.
  • Durga Killing the Buffalo Demon, a powerful 13th-century Nepalese depiction of the goddess at the climactic moment of her victory, one of the great sculptural treasures of the Rubin Museum.
  • An elegant 17th-century Tibetan gilt-bronze sculpture of a yogini, the female tantric deity Nairatmya, or “Goddess Without Self,” recently gifted to the Museum.
  • A dramatic, 5-foot-wide Eastern Tibetan painting of the goddess Tara Saving from the Eight Fears, a one stop for protection, long life, and good fortune.
  • A fantastical Mongolian woodcarving of the Skull Palace of the fierce protector and god of war, Begtse Chen, constructed almost entirely from skeletons and pinnacles of skulls.

Treasures from the Zhiguan Museum of Fine Art

On view March 9, 2019 through November 9, 2020

The special gallery Treasures from the Zhiguan Museum of Fine Art features highlights from an important new museum of Himalayan art in Beijing.

Curated by Karl Debreczeny

Support of this exhibition has been provided by contributors to the 2018 Exhibitions Fund.

Image Credits
Tara Protecting from the Eight Fears; Kham Province, southeastern Tibet; late 19th”“early 20th century; pigments on cloth with silk brocade; Rubin Museum of Art; gift of Dr. Michael Henss, Zurich; C2014.8
Skull Palace of Begtse Chen; Mongolia; 19th century; wood, pigments; Rubin Museum of Art; C2004.19.2 (HAR 65344)
The Red Goddess of Power; Kurukulla; Central Tibet; 19th century; pigments on cloth; Rubin Museum of Art; Gift of Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; F1996.7.2 (HAR 422)
Five Personal Gods; Tibet; 18th Century; pigments on cloth; Rubin Museum of Art; Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin; C2012.7.25 (HAR 1098)

Exhibition Resources