A historic collection in Kathmandu, Nepal
Itumbaha is recognized as the oldest and most important of the 28 viharas (Newar Buddhist monasteries) in Kathmandu, Nepal. The large complex is made up of several monasteries, courtyards, shrines, lanes, buildings, and a collection of over 500 objects, including ritual items and pieces of architecture.
In 2022, research confirmed that a wooden Garland Bearing Apsara (14th century) from the Rubin Museum’s permanent collection had been originally situated at Itumbaha and unlawfully removed in 1999 prior to the Rubin’s purchase in 2003. Following the Rubin’s return of this object to Nepal, a partnership was formed between Keshchandra Mahavihara Conservation Society, Itumbaha; curator and lecturer Swosti Rajbhandari Kayastha; and the Rubin Museum, to help the Conservation Society realize their decade-long desire to create a museum at Itumbaha. The Rubin provided advisory and financial support for the documentation, preservation, display, and interpretation of Itumbaha’s historic collection.
The successful partnership was completed when the Itumbaha Museum was inaugurated on July 29, 2023. The result is the creation of the first museum in a vihara in Nepal: three display galleries for the objects within the complex curated by Swosti Rajbhandari Kayastha and her students Rohit Manandhar and Suraj Shakya.
Learn more by reading an interview with Swosti Rajbhandari Kayastha about the Itumbaha Museum.