The Rubin Museum of Art, a popular haven for lovers of Buddhist art and education in New York, is set to officially close its doors on October 6 of this year, after two decades of operation. The move will result in a 40 percent reduction in the museum's current staff.
Originally opened in 2004 in a former Barney's department store, the museum will evolve into a decentralized model focused on research, traveling exhibitions, long-term loans, funding and scholarship programs.
“The definition of what a museum is has evolved significantly in recent years,” museum board chairman Noah Dorsky said in a statement. “Historically, the Rubin culture embraces continuous change and evolution, and in our new incarnation, we are redefining what a museum can be. » (The New York Times)
The move to a spaceless institution is a strategic effort to modernize the museum and address the challenges facing traditional museum structures. Jorrit Britschgi, director of the museum since 2017, expressed the need to make difficult changes to stay relevant.
“It's about leveraging the collection, leveraging our knowledge, leveraging our financial resources and really thinking about what we've always thought about, which is: how is it that a 21st century museum century still looks as much like a 20th century museum? » Britschgi said in an interview. “How can we redefine the way we operate as an organization? (ARTNews)
Journalist, writer and photographer Thomas Laird, who specializes in Himalayan art and culture, thanked the museum and expressed sadness at its closure as a physical space.
Laird's work, including photographing the Dalai Lama's private retreat at Lukhang Temple in Lhasa, helped introduce the world to the intricate beauty of Tibetan art. He writes: “(I) could never have achieved this dream without the support of Donald and Shelly Rubin and the Rubin Museum. While I am excited to see what future the Rubin Museum of Art has as a new kind of global institution, I am saddened today to learn that it will close its doors on October 6, 2024." (Linkedin )
The Rubin Museum, known for its Tibetan Buddhist shrine room and collection of Himalayan art, has been accused over the years of displaying stolen works. In 2022 and 2023, researchers provided evidence on the origin of certain pieces, leading the museum to voluntarily repatriate them.
A museum spokesperson said: “If we become aware that objects in our care have been documented as stolen or looted, the museum will handle all claims responsibly, which could include returning the objects to their country. original. » (Timeout)
The museum's latest exhibition, "Reimagine: Himalayan Art Now," will begin on March 15 and end on October 6.
Despite closing its physical space, the Rubin Museum plans to remain an organization that provides long-term loans, facilitates research, and supports Himalayan artistic initiatives. As the museum transitions, it will continue to circulate its collection, providing long-term loans and supporting the study of Himalayan art. Repatriation efforts initiated by the museum will continue, with a commitment to responsibly handling claims related to stolen or looted artifacts.
The decision to close the physical space is not attributed to pandemic-related challenges, but rather is part of the museum's broader efforts to adapt to the changing landscape of arts institutions. The museum noted that the closure highlighted its commitment to a decentralized, globally oriented model.