Death Is Not the End at The Rubin Museum of Art, March 17, 2023 – January 14, 2024

“The Rubin Museum of Art is pleased to present ‘Death Is Not the End,’ a new exhibition that explores notions of death and the afterlife through the art of Tibetan Buddhism and Christianity. Featuring prints, oil paintings, bone ornaments, thangka paintings, sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, and ritual objects, ‘Death Is Not the End’ invites contemplation on the universal human condition of impermanence and the desire to continue to exist. This cross-cultural exhibition brings together 58 objects spanning 12 centuries from the Rubin Museum’s collection alongside artworks on loan from private collections and major institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Morgan Library & Museum; Museum aan de Stroom, Antwerp; Wellcome Collection, London; Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City; San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Philadelphia Museum of Art; and more. The exhibition is part of the Rubin Museum’s yearlong thematic focus on Life After, exploring moments of change that propel us into the unknown.” — The Rubin Museum of Art

“During a time of great global uncertainty, loss, and turmoil, many question and ponder the various ideas related to the afterlife,” says Senior Curator of Himalayan Art Elena Pakhoutova. “In pairing artworks from Christianity—the most familiar cultural framework in the United States—with those from Buddhism, a less known visual culture in the West, we highlight a universal common ground and encourage visitors’ inquiry as they engage with these diverse objects. I hope that this exhibition inspires conversations around the sometimes challenging or uncomfortable topic of what comes after life, as well as respect for different perspectives and approaches.”

Lords of the Charnel Ground; Smashana Adipati; Tibet; 18th century; painted terracotta; 6 1/2 x 5 1/8 x 1 1/2 in. (16.5 x 13 x 3.8 cm); Rubin Museum of Art; C2002.36.1 (HAR 65149); photography by David De Armas for the Rubin Museum of Art, 2012
Wheel of Life; Tibet or Mongolia; 19th century; pigments on cloth; Rubin Museum of Art; gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin; C2006.66.131 (HAR 78)
A Woman Divided into Two, Representing Life and Death; 1790–1820; oil painting; 16 5/16 × 14 in. (41.5 x 35.5 cm); Wellcome Collection, London; 45063i
Pieter van der Heyden (Netherlandish, ca. 1525–1569); The Descent of Christ Into Limbo; Antwerp; ca. 1561; engraving; first state of two; sheet: 9 1/16 x 11 7/16 in. (23 x 29 cm); lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1926 (26.72.41)
Yama Dharmaraja; Tibet; 18th century; Woodblock print and pigments on silk; Rubin Museum of Art; gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin; C2006.66.264 (HAR 406)
Sarvavid Album Leaf #53: Liberation from Hell; Inner Mongolia; 18th–19th century; pigments on paper; Collection of the City of Antwerp – MAS; AE.1977.0026.41-54; Photo: Bart Huysmans & Michel Wuyts
Transformation. Smashana Adipati, Lords of the Charnel Ground; Tibet; 15th century; pigments on cloth; Rubin Museum of Art, gift of Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; F1996.16.5 (HAR 462)

“Death Is Not the End” is curated by Elena Pakhoutova, Senior Curator of Himalayan Art at the Rubin Museum.

Images courtesy The Rubin Museum of Art.