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Explore highlights from the Rubin Museum’s permanent collection. Listen to curators and staff art educators discuss specific artworks and learn about the context and mastery of Himalayan art. These artworks are located on the second, third, and fourth floors, and you can explore in any order.

Jewels of the Collection

Welcome to the Rubin Museum! In this tour, you’ll discover highlights from our permanent collection, hear from curators, and learn about key concepts and figures in Himalayan art.

Shezad Dawood (b.1974, London); Wrathful Activity, Fierce Energy; 2018; neon on black-painted board; Rubin Museum of Art; SC2020.1.1

The Story of the Buddha

Learn about the originator of Buddhism and the importance of iconography in Himalayan art.

Buddha Shakyamuni; Amdo Province, Eastern Tibet; 16th century; pigments on cloth; Rubin Museum of Art; gift of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; F1997.1.5 (HAR 39)

The Buddhist World

This instructional painting provides an introduction to Buddhist philosophy and understanding of the world. It is often reproduced on the entry walls of temples.

Wheel of Life; Tibet; 18th century; pigments on cloth; Rubin Museum of Art; gift of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; F1997.40.10 (HAR 591)

Charged with Buddha’s Blessing

Many of the artworks in our collection have been respectfully deconsecrated, but it is important to understand the sacrality of these objects and their connection to history and religious practices. These gems were found near remains of the historical Buddha and provide blessings to Buddhist followers.

Loose Gems from the Stupa; Piprahwa, India; January 1898; various gemstones; Photograph by Charlotte MacMillan Courtesy of Chris, Luke & Daniel Peppé

Powerful Female Narratives

This 12th-century sculpture of the Hindu goddess Durga is one of the most iconic pieces in our collection, highlighting the importance of storytelling and craftsmanship in Himalayan art.

Durga Killing the Buffalo Demon (Durga Mahisasuramardini); Nepal; 12th-13th century; gilt copper alloy; Rubin Museum of Art; C2005.16.11 (HAR 65433)

Unique Artistry

Few historic Tibetan artworks can be attributed to a specific artist, but one extraordinary known artist is the Tenth Karmapa, Choying Dorje (1604″“1674). Learn more about his unique style from curator Karl Debreczny.

Green Tara; attributed to Choying Dorje (1604-1674) or his workshop; Tibet; 17th century; brass with pigments; Rubin Museum of Art; C2005.16.3a-b (HAR 65425)

Contemporary Visions

Himalayan art is a living tradition. While many artists continue to work in traditional styles, they also bring creative innovations. Learn how Tsherin Sherpa used his training in traditional techniques to depict iconography in new ways. Tsherin Sherpa (b. 1968, Kathmandu, Nepal); Wish-fulfilling Tree; 2016; bronze cast mandala, found objects, rubble; Rubin Museum of Art; C2019.1.1a-j; photograph courtesy of Rossi & Rossi

Sacred Spaces

See Himalayan art in context in the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room, which illustrates how art functions in this living tradition. Learn more about the objects in this room and their ritual uses from curator Elena Pakhoutova.


General operating support of the Rubin Museum of Art is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, as well as by generous donations from the Museum’s Board of Trustees, individual donors, and members.

The Year of Impermanence at the Rubin Museum is made possible by Bob and Lois Baylis, Fred Eychaner, Christopher J. Fussner, Agnes Gund, Matt and Ann Nimetz, Rasika and Girish Reddy, and Shelley and Donald Rubin.