Rubin Museum of Art is right in my neighborhood, just a couple of blocks away from my apartment. It's on the same block as Haven's Kitchen on 17th Street between 6th and 7th Ave. but because it's closer to 7th Ave., I usually forget it's there. This time I remembered. It was my first visit and will not be my last.
Rubin Museum of Art—one of the few museums that doesn't add "The" in their name—covers Himalayan art.
Right around the corner past the admission desk is grand spiral staircase. It's Guggenheim lite. Just like the Guggenheim, it's a good idea to take the elevator to the 6th floor and visit each floor/exhibition and walk down the stairs. Above, I'm on the 4th floor landing.
There are daily guided tours: a Highlights Tour at 3:00PM and Exhibition Tours at 1PM and 4PM. Each tour is different depending who your tour guide is.
I went on a weekday afternoon when there's just the usual mix of senior citizens, tourists and...me. The museum was fairly empty and luckily, I was the only one on the tour. Love that.
Since it was my first visit, I went on the Highlights Tour which gives a nice introduction to Himalayan art. If you want to know anything and everything about Buddhas, you're in the right place.
My tour guide did a fantastic job walking me through the Gateway to Himalayan Art permanent exhibition where he pointed out a bit of history and meaning of the symbols and important figures. The same figures, postures, and gestures can be seen in a lot of works of Himalayan art, so it's a good foundation.
Don't forget to check out the stunning Tibetan Shrine Room on the same floor. It's hiding a bit around a corner, so keep an eye out.
One of the many things I learned was that Buddhas leave the earth as soon as they become enlightened through meditation. But there are Bodhisattvas, "awakened beings," who purposely remain on earth to help others achieve enlightenment.
Buddha Shakyamuni is the primary figure and founder of Buddhism. He is shown in various poses and gestures in sculptures and paintings.
After the hour-long tour, I went up to the 6th floor and saw the other exhibitions not covered on the Highlights Tour. Back at the first floor, I went into Serai, the museum cafe for a quick bite.
The tea served is from T Salon and I got a pot of White Earl Grey, which was excellent. It's has the same familiar bergamot notes of Earl Grey, but it's lighter since it has a white tea base. To go with my pot of tea, I ordered a Apple Crumb, which was just eh. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't good either. However, I will say that the service at the cafe is really excellent. Super friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable. You order at the counter and they give you a place card with a number so they can bring the food to you. I wasn't sure how to tip, but then noticed the tip jar at the counter.
INFO: Rubin Museum of Art | 150 West 17th Street btw 6th Ave. & 7th Ave. | New York, NY 10011 | 212.620.5000
TOURS: Free with admission