THE BEAUTY OF TIBET
The Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art’s mission is to present the art, culture, and history of Tibet to a world audience in order to educate and inspire appreciation of Himalayan cultures, and to foster better cultural understanding. Jacques Marchais, (1887-1948), designed a Museum and garden that replicated the small mountaintop monasteries of Tibet in order for visitors to view the collection of sculpture and ritual objects in a contextual setting. The buildings are the oldest examples of Himalayan-style architecture in the United States and the site is listed on the New York State Register and National Register of Historic Places.
The Museum is composed of two fieldstone buildings built directly into the side of Lighthouse Hill and overlooking the southern part of Staten Island. Constructed of local fieldstone by master stone mason Joseph Primiano, the buildings contain Tibetan style features such as trapezoid shaped windows, decorative wooden posts, high ceilings and a rooftop cupola that replicates the rooftop of the Lama Temple of Jehol, China. According to Jacques Marchais’ diary, the Museum building was designed to replicate a “Tibetan Chanting Hall.” These buildings are the greatest artifacts in the collection. The surrounding landscape is a meditative garden with seasonal and Himalayan plantings, prayer flags blowing in the trees, seating nooks and an outdoor patio. The garden is an integral part of the visitor experience as the views change with each season. Upon completing her garden, Jacques Marchais wrote: And, so endeth the tale of a garden built on a hillside by a woman, to be shared with her friends, who, like herself, feel the need of a retreat not far from the city, still, so secluded from the curious eyes of the world at large, that peace and a heavenly quiet can be found within its sheltering walls.