The Rubin Museum of Art, also known as the Rubin Museum, is dedicated to the collection, display, and preservation of the art and cultures of the Himalayas, the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia and other regions within Eurasia, with a permanent collection focused particularly on Tibetan art. The museum opened in 2004 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.[1] It announced the closure of its New York City building in October 2024, to become a virtual museum.[2][3]

Rubin Museum of Art
Exterior seen from 17th Street
EstablishedOctober 2, 2004
Location150 West 17th Street
Manhattan, New York City
Coordinates40°44′24″N 73°59′52″W / 40.7401°N 73.9978°W / 40.7401; -73.9978
TypeArt museum, education center, performance and event venue
Collection size2,000+ objects
Public transit accessBus:
M1, M2, M3, M7, M14A, M14D, M20, M55

PATH: JSQ-33, HOB-33 at 14th Street



The museum originated from a private collection of Himalayan art which Donald and Shelley Rubin had been assembling since 1974 and which they wanted to display.[4][5] In 1998, the Rubins paid $22 million for the building that had been occupied by Barneys New York, a designer fashion department store that had filed for bankruptcy.[6] The building was remodeled as a museum by preservation architects Beyer Blinder Belle. The original six-story spiral staircase was left intact to become the center of the 25,000 square feet (2,300 square meters) of exhibition space.

The museum opened on October 2, 2004,[7] and displays more than 1,000 objects including paintings, sculpture, and textiles, as well as ritual objects from the 2nd to the 20th centuries. The new facade on 17th Street and the five floors of galleries were influenced by Tibetan art, and were conceived by New York-based museum architects Celia Imrey and Tim Culbert. Its graphic identity was conceived by graphic designer Milton Glaser.

Due to budgetary cuts, in 2019 the Rubin Museum fired one-quarter of employees, reduced its operating hours, and reduced the number of special exhibitions it hosted every year.[8][9] The COVID-19 pandemic in New York City further impacted the museum's finances negatively.[9] In early 2024, media sources reported that the Rubin Museum's Manhattan location would close on October 6, 2024.[9][10] The Rubin Museum would continue to operate without a physical location, loaning out pieces to other institutions while continuing its support and research of Himalayan art around the world.[10][11]



The museum's exhibitions and programs are supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Music Fund, the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, other corporate and foundation donors, and a roster of corporate and individual members.[12]

In 2011, the museum announced that founders Donald and Shelley Rubin would give a five-year, $25 million gift to support operations, exhibitions, and programs. Donald Rubin also planned to step down as chief executive, although the couple were to continue to lead the museum's board.[13] This presented challenges and led to a restructuring ahead of the funds running out in 2020.[14][15]



The 70,000-square-foot museum occupies what was formerly a portion of the Barneys department store in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. It was acquired in 1998 and renovated extensively from 2000 to 2004. The renovation and new design elements were the results of a collaboration headed by the architectural firm of Beyer Blinder Belle and including Atelier Imrey Culbert (associate museum designers) and Milton Glaser Incorporated.[citation needed] Many of the architectural details within the building were retained, most notably Andree Putman's steel-and-marble staircase that spirals through the six-story gallery tower.[16][17] In addition to gallery space for featured exhibitions, the museum includes space for contemporary and historical photography, an art-making studio, a theater for multimedia events and performances, a café, and a gift shop. In September 2011, the museum opened a new 5,000 square-foot Education Center adjacent to the main museum building.[18] The building is also home to the Rubin's other art project, The 8th Floor, which opened in 2010.


The second-floor gallery with objects from the permanent collection

Among the museum's inaugural exhibitions were "Methods of Transcendence", "Portraits of Transmission" and "The Demonic Divine in Himalayan Art".[19][20] In 2006, a three-part exhibition called "Holy Madness" spotlighted Siddhas with "Portraits of Tantric Siddhas," "Mahasiddhas at Gyantse," and "Mahasiddhas at Alchi."

After a shift in the volume of rotating exhibits in 2019 due to funding challenges, the museum began to focus more on experiences and the permanent collection.[14][21] In September 2021, the museum opened a new permanent installation, called Mandala Lab dedicated to emotional health and wellness.[22][23]

In addition to its exhibits, the museum is also known for its wide-ranging public programming series.[4]


See also



  1. ^ Kanter, Evelyn (2010). Peaceful Places: New York City: 129 Tranquil Sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Birmingham, AL: Menasha Ridge Press. p. 183. ISBN 9780897327206.
  2. ^ Choi, Christy (February 2, 2024). "New York's Rubin Museum is closing its doors — but will live on as a 'museum without walls'". CNN. Retrieved February 4, 2024.
  3. ^ Small, Eddie (February 2, 2024). "Rubin Museum to shutter and sell longtime Chelsea home". Crain's New York Business. Retrieved February 4, 2024.
  4. ^ a b McGee, Celia (March 12, 2008). "He's Hauling in the Visitors by Livening Up the Events". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  5. ^ Powell, Michael (October 17, 2004). "In New York, Himalayan Art With a Lofty Mission". The Washington Post. p. N01. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  6. ^ Barbanel, Josh (May 2, 2004). "Himalayan Artworks at 17th and Seventh; A Former Barneys To House a Museum – New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  7. ^ Larson, Kay (July 25, 2004). "ART; Karma? Top Floor, Next to Shoes". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  8. ^ Stoilas, Helen (October 2, 2019). "Rubin Museum restructures, reducing staff, hours and programmes, for 'long-term sustainability'". The Art Newspaper – International art news and events. Retrieved February 1, 2024.
  9. ^ a b c Small, Zachary (January 31, 2024). "Rubin Museum, Haven for Asian Art, to Close After 20 Years". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 1, 2024.
  10. ^ a b Mitchell, Bea (February 1, 2024). "Rubin Museum to close New York building and become "global museum"". Blooloop. Retrieved February 1, 2024.
  11. ^ Greenberger, Alex; Villa, Angelica (January 31, 2024). "Rubin Museum to Shutter New York Space After 20 Years, Pivot to 'Global' Model". Archived from the original on January 31, 2024. Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  12. ^ "The Rubin Museum of Art: The First Five Years" (PDF). New York: Rubin Museum of Art. 2010.
  13. ^ Kennedy, Randy (October 20, 2011). "Rubin Museum Will Get $25 Million and a New Chief Executive". Retrieved May 17, 2012.
  14. ^ a b Stoilas, Helen (October 2, 2019). "Rubin Museum restructures, reducing staff, hours and programmes, for 'long-term sustainability'". The Art Newspaper – International art news and events. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  15. ^ "New York's Rubin Museum to Cut Jobs and Programs in Major Restructuring". October 4, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  16. ^ Murg, Stephanie (March 16, 2007). "Dalai Lama appears at the Rubin Museum, in spirit and acrylic". Chelsea Now. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  17. ^ Stevens, Mark (May 21, 2005). "Stairway to Nirvana". New York Magazine. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  18. ^ "Rubin Museum of Art website". Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  19. ^ Rubin Museum of Art: The First Five Years (PDF). New York: Rubin Museum of Art. 2010. p. 82.
  20. ^ Linrothe, Robert N.; Rhie, Marilyn M. (2004). Demonic Divine: Himalayan Art and Beyond. New York and Chicago: Rubin Museum of Art and Serindia Publications. p. 321. ISBN 1932476083.
  21. ^ Dafoe, Taylor (December 11, 2019). "Amid Financial Struggles and Cutbacks in Staff, the Rubin Museum Hires a Chief Experience Officer to Address the Institution's 'Body Language'". Artnet News. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  22. ^ "The Rubin Museum Is Building an Emotional Wellness Lab, and Other News". SURFACE. October 26, 2020. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  23. ^ Malone, David (August 17, 2021). "The Rubin Museum of Art's Mandala Lab set to open | Building Design + Construction". Retrieved September 28, 2021.