Rubin Museum

150 west 17th Street
New York, NY 10011

Description of Organization

After numerous years of building a large collection of Himalayan and Tibetan art, collectors Shelley and Donald Rubin saw the urgency of helping preserve the artworks and sharing them with the world. In 1995, realizing that they had gradually come into significant cultural material from a country and people in diaspora, they established the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation to promote social justice, support the arts, and meet urgent human needs, primarily in the Himalaya and New York City.

Today the Rubin Museum of Art explores the diversity of Himalayan art, ideas, and culture across history into the present and fosters understanding of this region by relating its art and ideas to our shared human experience. Inspired by the philosophical traditions of Buddhism aligned with research into learning, behavior, and the brain, the Rubin offers exhibitions and programs that examine ideas across the arts and explore the mind, inviting a deeper understanding of the potential of human existence.

Grant(s) Awarded

In 2024, a Women in Buddhism grant in the amount of $7,000 was awarded to support women artists and practitioners who are underrepresented in the public’s view. The following programs will be developed– engaging a representative sample of our Mindfulness Meditation teachers in a CONVERSATION REGARDING WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP IN BUDDHISM. We are also proposing to host a series of THREE AUTHOR EVENTS FOR WOMEN and by women. We also seek support of up and coming women teachers for our popular WEEKLY MINDFULNESS MEDITATION series. This contemplative series is led by up and coming female Buddhist leaders every Thursday during the lunch hour. After being offered solely online since 2020, we have broadened our audience, become an early adopter of podcasting, receiving accolades and capturing new audiences recording and sharing our weekly, 30-minute“Mindfulness Meditations” centered on specific works of art from the Museum’s collection. Since the pandemic, recordings of the sessions as podcasts have nearly 950,000 listens, and an average of 6,000 regular listeners each week.

In 2022, a grant in the amount of $10,000 was awarded to support a BIPOC retreat designed for empowering self-identifying people of color involved in change-making work. Participants could be a community organizer, healer or healing arts practitioner, educator, activist, artist, mom, scientist, journalist, lawyer, author or storyteller working for peace and justice. Through silent hikes, meditation, yoga, guided peer-to-peer dialogue in a strong container of emotional safety and trust, gratitude/grief/rage rituals and other group-work, and talks by the teachers, the retreat will explore how we can deepen activism as a spiritual path, learn to honor and transform our emotions through empathy and connection, face the root cause of our suffering, and act with deep compassion and courage in these difficult times.

In 2021, a COVID-19 General Operating Grant of $5,000 was awarded to Rubin Museum of Art to support staff operating costs and production of online programs that incorporate Buddhist meditation and mindfulness techniques.  Due to the impact of COVID-19, The Rubin Museum of Art suffered a decrease in memberships and donations. Their strategic goal of reaching a wider, international audience, however, came to fruition when they closed their offices and gallery spaces.  Recognizing the need to help people achieve balance in their lives, The Rubin began offering additional online programs including:

  • A 2-hour livestream of the Shrine Room with Buddhist chanting followed by thirty-day offerings online.
  • The Lotus Effect Program which reflects the Buddhist idea of transformation and with instructions for creating an origami lotus to dedicate to a loved one, group, or memory.
  • Online Annual Block Party was developed in collaboration with community partners with a theme that was aligned with the Buddhist concept of impermanence.
    Programs for families and K-12 students teaching awareness through mindful looking, breathing, and recognizing feelings were incorporated into online tours and workshops and the Losar Family Day, celebrating the Himalayan New Year.
  • Mindful Connections–a free, monthly online experience that includes mindfulness activities for visitors with Alzheimer’s and dementia and their care partners.

In 2019, a grant in the amount of $6,000 was awarded to The Rubin Museum to support their signature meditation program, Awakening Practices, which has its roots in the living traditions of the Himalayas. This practice is offered on select Saturday mornings by Rubin staff member, Tashi Chodron. Awakening Practice explores the connections between Himalayan culture, art, and practice. Each 45-minute session occurs in the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine room and includes a 20-minute guided meditation, mudra (seals or gestures that aid in meditation), mantra (sound meditation), and contemplation.

In 2013, a grant addendum provided an additional $2,500 in support of the sixth annual BrainWave series.

In 2011, The Lenz Foundation awarded the Rubin Museum a $10,000 grant for their 2011 BrainWave series. Brainwave brings people from diverse walks of life together to engage with neuroscientists in one-on-one conversations in order to better understand the workings of our minds. Starting February 2012 the series will focus on how memory is processed in the brain.