No big surprises in the Village Voice’s Our 10 Best Museum Restaurants:
10. Untitled at The Whitney Museum
9. Robert at the Museum of Arts and Design
8. Fraunces Tavern at the Fraunces Tavern Museum
7. El Café at El Museo del Barrio
6. The Morgan Dining Room at the Morgan Library & Museum
5. Birdbath at the New Museum
4. Garden Court Café at the Asia Society
3. The Bar Room of the Modern at the Museum of Modern Art
2. The Café at the Rubin Museum of Art
1. Café Sabarsky at the Neue Galerie
But I’m thinking I should probably do a little research myself…
I walked over to the Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art on Friday. To my surprise, they have one of those “Free after 6pm on Fridays” programs going so I was ushered in gratis.
I had never been to the Rubin before and was immediately struck by its chic and immaculate interior. Arranged in a tightly-wound Guggenheim-esque spiral, the galleries beginning on the second floor wrap around a central staircase that propels one up from one exhibition to the next.
The second floor gallery space is an informative dissection of the materials, components, and influences of Himalayan art from religious references to the meanings of specific iconographies. I ascended to the next level confident in my ability to distinguish a buddha from a bodhisattva. But the Rubin was as aesthetically glorious as it was educational.
Visually rich paintings of Hindu deities in tantric pose mingled with ornately carved statues on the third floor. While the fourth featured contemporary works inspired by Buddhism. I was particularly taken by Wolfgang Laib’s Milkstone, a small hollowed out slab of white marble filled with milk. The next floor exhibited medieval religious works alongside Himalayan ones to emphasize stylistic and thematic parallels. And the sixth floor closed with an exploration of Nepalese influences on Tibetan painting.
As I perambulated from one gallery to the next, Himalayan music filtered up from the café below and more and more people engaged each other in conversation over different pieces. There was a small study space with chairs and computers on each floor, enabling visitors to learn more about a particular work or simply pause and reflect.
My favorite room by far is the Tibetan Shrine Room on the second floor. Intuitively saving it for last, I rested my arms against its railing and spent several moments studying the vast array of statuettes, paintings, and furniture within. Perhaps it was the flicker of faux candlelight or the strain of music coming up from the first floor but I was thoroughly won over. The Shrine Room is a superb tightly packed space, the pièce de résistance in the Rubin Museum’s delicious bag of goodies.
The Rubin Museum
150 W. 17 St.
Monday: 11 a.m – 5 p.m.
Wednesday: 11 a.m – 7 p.m.
Thursday: 11 a.m – 5 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m – 10 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 11 a.m – 6 p.m.
Adults $10.00, Seniors $5.00, Students $5.00, Children (12 and younger) – Free
Gallery admission is free every Friday from 6-10 p.m.
Great museum to bring friends or lovers