Acquired between the 1920’s and 1947, the Jacques Marchais Museum holds one of the oldest collections of Himalayan art in the United States. It is also among the first institutions dedicated to Himalayan Asia in the Western world. The Museum’s collection spans a number of categories and reflects Jacques Marchais’ interest in Tibetan culture, religion, and art.

Jacques Marchais sitting on her Chinese red lacquer chair on opening day of the Museum, October 5, 1947.

Jacques Marchais sitting on her Chinese red lacquer chair on opening day of the Museum, October 5, 1947.

Most of these objects originated on the Tibetan plateau between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. They represent the cultures and religions found in the area. The majority of the Museum’s works are related to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. A few works, however, depicts deities from the Bon religion, which is sometimes seen as the descendant of pre-Buddhist Tibetan religion.

Jacques Marchais Library Book, Photo by Sean P. Sweeney.

Jacques Marchais Library Book, Photo by Sean P. Sweeney.

Large Altar Table: 85.05.0306 Nepal 17th – 19th Centuries, Wood with copper repousse sheathing inlaid with gemstones. Photo by Alan Barnett Photography.

Large Altar Table: 85.05.0306 Nepal 17th – 19th Centuries, Wood with copper repousse sheathing inlaid with gemstones. Photo by Alan Barnett Photography.

Some of the collection’s highlights include life-size statues of Tsong Khapa and Maitreya, an elaborately bejeweled shrine from Nepal, Bon cemetery protectors, an intricately carved and lacquered stupa from China, and an eight-foot high thangka painting of Green Tara. The Museum is currently working to restore a large, Sino-Tibetan shrine with the help of Tserring Phuntsok, a restoration expert.

Blog written by Allison Baldassano for the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art.