"Mandala of Chakrasamvara"; Tibet; 14th–15th century; pigments on cloth. Rubin Museum of Art, gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin; C2006.66.138 (HAR 97).

CHESTNUT HILL, MA.- The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College presents Gateway to Himalayan Art, a traveling exhibition organized by the Rubin Museum of Art that introduces the main forms, concepts, meanings, and traditions of Himalayan art and cultures. The exhibition features 101 objects from the Rubin Museum’s collection as well as multimedia elements—audio, videos, essays, maps, and more—from the Rubin’s recently launched educational initiative, Project Himalayan Art, a resource designed to support the inclusion of Tibetan, Himalayan, and Inner Asian art and cultures into undergraduate teaching on Asia.

The McMullen Museum is the first New England venue to host Gateway to Himalayan Art. The exhibition will be on view in the McMullen Museum’s Daley Family and Monan Galleries until December.


'Chakrasamvara with Consort Vajravarahi', Kham region, eastern Tibet; 19th century, Pigments on cloth, Rubin Museum of Art, Gift of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, F1997.7.2 (HAR 99)

“Gateway to Himalayan Art will engage visitors, especially students, with a multitude of new approaches, ranging from aesthetic and spiritual to technical, for understanding works of art from Bhutanese, Indian, Tibetan, and Nepalese cultures,” said Nancy Netzer, Inaugural Robert L. and Judith T. Winston Director and Professor of Art History. “The McMullen is honored to present the Rubin Museum of Art’s exhibition, comprising more than one hundred objects from its outstanding collection, accompanied by their exemplary didactics, digital platform, and publication.”

Gateway to Himalayan Art, which is modeled on the Rubin Museum of Art’s cornerstone exhibition of the same title, invites visitors to enter into the art and cultures of the greater Himalayan region—Indian, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Tibetan—and the interrelated Mongolian and Chinese traditions. Much of Himalayan art is informed by Buddhist, Hindu, and Indigenous religions, and images play a prominent role in cultural practices.


"Bodhisattva Kshitigarbha"; Tibet; 17th century; gilt copper alloy with pigment. Rubin Museum of Art, Gift of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, F1997.12.4 (HAR 700040)

The exhibition highlights the fundamental visual language and meanings of Himalayan art, the materials and techniques used, and the purposes for the creation of these objects, often in the context of religious and secular well-being. It also includes voices from Himalayan artists and contemporaries, along with connections to related digital content to provide more information.

Gateway to Himalayan Art features traditional scroll paintings (thangka), sculptures in various media, medical instruments, and ritual objects. Among the featured installations are in-depth displays that explain the process of Nepalese lost-wax metal casting and the stages of Tibetan thangka painting.


"Life Story of Buddha Shakyamuni"; Tibet; 19th century; pigments on cloth. Rubin Museum of Art, Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin, C2006.66.19 (HAR 672).

Gateway to Himalayan Art is an integral component of the Rubin Museum’s Project Himalayan Art, a three-part initiative that also includes the publication Himalayan Art in 108 Objects and a digital platform, a hub for the study of Himalayan art. Together they provide introductory resources for learning about and teaching Himalayan art, with focus on cross-cultural exchange with Tibet at the center, and Buddhism as the thread that connects these diverse cultures.

“Project Himalayan Art has been over three years in the making and is a capstone in the Rubin Museum’s efforts to expand awareness and appreciation of Himalayan art and cultures on a global level,” says Rubin Museum of Art Executive Director Jorrit Britschgi. “We are thrilled to bring the Gateway to Himalayan Art exhibition and its accompanying rich resources to Boston College and for students, teachers, and visitors from the surrounding community to discover and deepen their understanding of Asian art.”

McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College, 'Gateway to Himalayan Art', September 5th, 2023 - December 10th, 2023


UshnishavijayaTibet; 18th century. Ground mineral pigment on cotton. Rubin Museum of Art, Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin, C2006.66.507


Yellow Jambhala, Tibet, 17th Century. Clay with pigments; 25 1/4 × 19 3/4 × 11 1/4 in. Rubin Museum of Art, C2006.64.1 (HAR 65728)


Handheld Prayer Wheel, Central Tibet; early 20th century. Silver, wood. Rubin Museum of Art, Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin, SC2012.7.2.


Ritual Hammer, China, Ming dynasty, Yongle  period (1403-1424). Iron, gold, and silver. Rubin Museum of Art, C2005.16.7 (HAR 65429)


Buddha Shakyamuni, Tibet; 13th century. Gilt copper alloy with pigments. Rubin Museum of Art, Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin, C2005.16.31 (HAR 65454).


Buddha Shakyamuni, Tsang Province, Central Tibet; 18th centuryPigments on cloth. Rubin Museum of Art, C2006.66.128 (HAR 75).


Buddha Maitreya, Kham Province, Eastern Tibet; 19th century. Pigments on cloth. Rubin Museum of Art, C2002.35.2 (HAR 65201). 


Buddha Maitreya, Bihar or Bengal, India; 12th century. Gilt copper alloy with inlays of silver, copper, and glass. Rubin Museum of Art, C2005.16.6 (HAR 65428)


Vajradhara with Consort, Tibet; 14th century. Gilt copper alloy. Rubin Museum of Art, C2005.16.19 (HAR 65442)


Guhyasamaja Akshobhyavajra with Consort, Tibet or Mongolia; 18th–19th century. Pigments on cloth. Rubin Museum of Art, Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin, C2006.66.541 (HAR 1017)


Vajrayoginī, Tibet; 18th century. Brass and gilt copper alloy. Rubin Museum of Art, C2005.16.47 (HAR 65470)


Green Tara, Tibet; 18th century. Pigments on cloth. Rubin Museum of Art, Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin, C2006.66.19 (HAR 672


Damchen Garwai Nakpo, China; 18th century. Gilt brass. Rubin Museum of Art, C2005.16.65 (HAR 65488)


Shri Devi, Dorje Rabtenma, Tibet; 17th century. Pigments on cloth. Rubin Museum of Art, Gift of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, F1997.17.13 (HAR 330).


Bhairava, Nepal; 13th or 14th century. Copper alloy with inlays of semiprecious stones. Rubin Museum of Art, C2003.33.1 (HAR 65256).


Indra, Nepal; 16th century. Gilt copper alloy. Rubin Museum of Art, C2005.16.44 (HAR 65467).


Ganesha, Nepal; 17th century. Copper alloyRubin Museum of Art, C2004.22.2 (HAR 65369).


Vishnu, Nepal; 12th century. Gilt copper alloyRubin Museum of Art, C2006.35.2 (HAR 65669.


Indra, Nepal; 12th century. Gilt copper alloyRubin Museum of Art, C2006.71.8 (HAR 65761).


Siddhi Lakshmi, Nepal; 17th century. Gilt copper alloyRubin Museum of Art, C2004.34.4 (HAR 65402).