Rubin Museum to close New York location, transform to global museum

After 20 years, the Rubin will close its doors this fall to pursue a “museum without walls” approach.

Lilly Greenblatt31 January 2024
The Tibetan Shrine Room at the Rubin Museum of Art. Photo by Scott McDonough.

The Rubin Museum of Art, an institution dedicated to the art and culture of the Himalayan region, announced Thursday that it will close its New York City location this year and become a “global museum.”

The Rubin, founded by Donald and Shelley Rubin in 2004, houses a vast collection of Buddhist art from the Tibetan Plateau. Their Manhattan location will close on October 6, 2024, after which the institution will become a “museum without walls” with plans to launch an “innovative program of partnerships, grants, loans, traveling exhibitions, scholarship, and digital offerings.”

The Rubin’s decision to sell its building comes after its board’s examination of how to best use the museum’s collection and financial resources long term. As a global museum, the Rubin aims to continue to care for and study their collection while increasing its accessibility through long-term loans to other institutions and future investments in multimedia educational resources.

Plans for future programming are already underway with traveling exhibitions, installations, and programs scheduled into 2026 in collaboration with other institutions both nationally and internationally. The Rubin’s current digital programs will continue to be produced, with new digital experiences planned for the future. As a global museum, the Rubin also plans to offer significant funding opportunities for external organizations, scholars, and artists to support research, interpretation, and presentation of Himalayan art.

Until October 6, visitors to the museum can enjoy the anniversary exhibition, “Reimagine: Himalayan Art Now,” which showcases work from 32 contemporary artists from Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, and international artists inspired by Himalayan art. Highlights from the museum’s permanent collection, the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room, and the New York installation of the Mandala Lab will also remain open to visitors.

“Building and sharing this collection of Himalayan art was one of my family’s great joys,” writes co-founder Shelley Rubin the museum’s announcement.

“While it has been a privilege to welcome visitors to the Rubin in New York over the last 20 years, our anniversary inspired reflection on how we can achieve the greatest possible impact well into the future. The result is the firm belief that a more expansive model will allow us to best serve our mission – not changing ‘why’ we share Himalayan art with the world, but ‘how’ we do it.”

Lilly Greenblatt

Lilly Greenblatt

Lilly Greenblatt is the digital editor of LionsRoar.com. You can find more about her at lillygreenblatt.com