A trip to Tibet to tour an ancient mountain monastery could cost you an arm and a leg and require days of difficult travel. If you want to sample the rich history of this Asian country, your best bet is to visit the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, located on Lighthouse Hill in Staten Island, NY. Designed and established by Jacques Marchais in 1945, one of the earliest American collectors of Tibetan art, this educational center was intended to give American visitors a taste of Tibet and a peek at the rich culture and history of the country.
The result is a temple-like complex reminiscent of a peaceful mountain monastery, complete with fieldstone buildings and the Samadhi Garden, featuring a fish pond, meditation cells, and paintings by Marchais herself. The museum serves as the first example of traditional Himalayan style architecture in the U.S., as well as the first museum dedicated exclusively to Tibetan art. What can you expect when you plan a visit to this unique and exotic museum? Here’s what your adventure entails.
Visitors to this gorgeous museum are greeted by art and culture, including colorful prayer flags, intricately embellished sculptures of Tibetan deities, and rows of prayer wheels. In short, the experience is immediately immersive.
Visitors are invited to tour collections, including historical photographs, art, scrolls, sculpture, ritual objects, musical instrument, furniture, and more. Jacques Marchais collected over 1,000 objects during her lifetime. The permanent collection of the museum features 125 objects, and rotating exhibits provide an opportunity for the public to view even more of her astonishing collection.
Because of the troubled history of Tibet, including the destruction of monasteries and the objects within, the beautiful artifacts housed within the Museum of Tibetan Art offer a rare peek at the artistry and craftsmanship of the people of Tibet, preserved for the enjoyment of all. In addition to exhibits, the museum offers a variety of events for visitors to enjoy.
The calendar of events at the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art includes Sunday afternoon film screenings, as well as weekly meditation and tai chi classes. Those interested in learning more about the history and culture of Tibet will learn a lot from film screenings, held Sunday afternoons at 2pm. Since starting the screenings in 2012, the museum has shown more than 30 different educational feature and documentary films, some of them from Tibetan filmmakers and directors.
Visitors seeking a little something extra can participate in guided meditation classes with Thupten Phuntsok most Saturday mornings from 11:30am to 1pm. If you can’t make it, you can always check out his meditation podcast. Or if you’d rather work some mindful movement into your week, show up Saturday afternoon for Tai Chi classes with Bob Murphy from 3:30 to 5pm. All classes are $12 for the general public or $10 for members.
Anyone interested in experiencing Tibet without the hassle and expense of an overseas trip can get a tantalizing taste of the country’s wonderfully rich history, art, and cultural heritage with an all-encompassing visit to the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art.
Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
338 Lighthouse Ave
Staten Island, NY 10306