The Rubin Museum – home to Himalayan art in New York – has closed its doors after 20 years, but with other plans.
The Rubin Museum was founded in 2004 to house the collection of Donald and Shelley Rubin. Since the 90s, the couple has created a vast collection of traditional art from Himalayan art. These included Tibetan artwork, Hindu paintings, Buddha sculptures, and so on. While the museum also held contemporary artworks, their focus on antique and traditional Himalayan art earned them a special name in the competitive New York art space.
However, now the museum has announced that it will be closing its doors. October 6th will be the last day for the iconic museum. A spokesperson for the Rubin Museum also confirmed that about 40% of the museum’s workforce would also have to be let go.
But all is not over for the Rubin Museum. Jorrit Britschgi, who has served as museum director since 2017, said that they are trying to reinvent the museum and earn it global recognition. While the physical space will close down, the museum will continue operating as an entity. Under this new structure, the museum will provide long-term loans of artworks. It will also aid research in Tibetan and related art, as well as give out prizes and grants in that avenue.
While “going global” was the official clarification for the closure, the Rubin Museum has faced turmoil in the past few years. Like many others, it was severely impacted during the pandemic. It also faced repatriation calls for artworks allegedly stolen from Nepal. While the museum returned a few of these works to Nepal, activists continue insisting that a lot more works in Rubin’s collection were smuggled or stolen.