The Rubin Museum of Art—an institution in New York focused on the art and ideas of the Himalayas, India, and neighboring areas—has appointed Jorrit Britschgi as its new executive director.
Replacing outgoing director Patrick Sears, Britschgi had served previously as the Rubin’s director of exhibitions, collections, and research since 2016. Britschgi’s background is in East Asian art history and, prior to joining the Rubin, he served as the head of exhibitions and publications at the Museum Rietberg in Zurich.
In his new role, Britschgi said he will look to strengthen the museum’s financial standing and broaden its audience through exhibitions and related programming. He sees the museum and its particular focus, with a collection of more than 3,200 object spanning some 1,500 years, as uniquely positioned to connect audiences “with the timeless questions that we humans face,” he told ARTnews.
In 2018, the museum will inaugurate a yearlong exploration of “The Future” to “bring out Himalayan art as a reference point to make people ponder the future not only as individuals but as a society,” Britschgi said. “Thinking about the collective future is a timeless task and bringing out that timelessness is our task as an institution.”
Bob Baylis, the Rubin’s board president, echoed the sentiment when describing the institution’s search for a new director. “As a museum, we’re seeing if we can reach out for individuals to find some personal connection, identify with the basic concept of compassion, and better understand the human experience through art,” Baylis said. “There’s an applicable bridge on a global basis to have a view of applied wisdom and compassion through Buddhist principles.”
Exhibitions slated for next year include a solo show of video interventions by Chitra Ganesh, a three-part series titled “A Lost Future” to show work by contemporary artists beginning with Shezad Dawood, and an exhibition opening in February under the title “The Second Buddha: Master of Time.”
“The Second Buddha” will focus on the legacy of the eighth-century teacher Padmasambhava, often considered integral to introducing Buddhism to Tibet. “He foresaw that there would be a future when things would be different, and he devised a way to project his teachings into the future,” Britschgi said.
With that and other future programs, Britschgi said he hopes the Rubin Museum will begin to “speak all the languages a museum can speak.”