Sacred Spaces, Rubin Museum of Art

The Rubin Museum’s exhibition Sacred Spaces invites visitors to reflect on devotional activities in awe-inspiring places. The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room has been one of the most popular installations at the Rubin Museum, providing an immersive experience inspired by a traditional shrine.

Art and ritual objects are displayed as they would in an elaborate private household shrine, a space used for offerings, devotional prayer, rituals, and contemplation. The design of the Shrine Room showcases these objects while incorporating elements of traditional Tibetan architecture and the color schemes of Tibetan homes.

For Museum visitors, this richly detailed, immersive installation provides an oasis for peaceful contemplation at the heart of the Rubin Museum.

Scroll paintings known as thangkas, sculptures, ritual items, and musical instruments are arranged on traditional Tibetan furniture according to the hierarchy they assume in Tibetan Buddhist practices. The objects, such as vajras and bells, offering bowls, pitchers, and ritual mandalas are used in daily rituals and offerings along with handheld drums, conch trumpets, horns, and reeds. Ornamental textile decorations of brocade silk, made by traditional masters of appliqué craft, hung from the ceiling and on pillars, are also an integral part of a traditional shine room’s adornment. The Rubin’s Shrine Room is complete with simulated flickering butter lamps, recordings of Tibetan monks and nuns chanting prayers, and the subtle smell of incense, which is used during religious practices.

The installation of Tradition Shrine Room to highlight each of the four major Tibetan religious traditions. This rendition features the Tibetan tradition and includes images of buddhas, bodhisattvas, tantric deities, protectors, and teacher portraits specific to the branches of this tradition.

The installation is accompanied by an interactive touch screen with a virtual tour of the Shrine Room. The tour features select paintings, sculptures, and ritual items on loan to the Museum as well as objects from the Rubin Museum’s collection that focus on the Kagyu tradition’s deities, teachers, and related practices.

Rubin Museum of Art
The Rubin Museum of Art is a museum dedicated to the collection, display, and preservation of the art and cultures of the Himalayas, India and neighboring regions, with a permanent collection focused particularly on Tibetan art. It is located at 150 West 17th Street between the Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue) and Seventh Avenue in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City.

The Rubin Museum of Art is a dynamic environment that stimulates learning, promotes understanding, and inspires personal connections to the ideas, cultures, and art of Himalayan regions.

Visitors are at our core. We share with all communities our collection and broadly conceived exhibitions as a catalyst for dialogues about art and culture.

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.

We encourage creativity, innovation, and risk-taking, as well as excellence, transparency, and collegiality in all that we do.

As stewards of an increasingly significant collection of art from Himalayan regions, we are dedicated to its preservation, display, and study and to advance this field of art and cultural understanding.