Interactive

Honoring Nepal’s Cultural Heritage One Year After Its Catastrophic Quake

Ganesha (11th century, Madhya Pradesh, India), sandstone, part of the ‘Honoring Nepal’ installation at the Rubin Museum of Art (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)
Ganesha (11th century, Madhya Pradesh, India), sandstone, part of the ‘Honoring Nepal’ installation at the Rubin Museum of Art (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

To coincide with the one-year anniversary of the April 25, 2015, earthquake in Nepal, the Rubin Museum of Art is launching a series of commemorative projects, including an online exhibition that celebrates the unique culture of the region. Called Honoring Nepal: People, Places, Art, it’s a collaboration with institutions around the world to showcase images from and interactive material about the country’s heritage.

Honoring Nepal continues the Rubin’s initiative of the same name, which was started last May following the earthquake. The project has included an installation on the museum’s first floor, displaying objects like an 11th-century sandstone Ganesha and 17th-century wood carving from the Kathmandu Valley, as well as labels throughout the institution that marked associated objects with #HonorNepal. On May 6, the museum will open Nepalese Seasons: Rain and Ritual, which will use objects from the collection to connect sacred art to the importance of the monsoon season.

'Honoring Nepal: People, Places, Art' online exhibition (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)
‘Honoring Nepal: People, Places, Art’ online exhibition, with a photograph by Corine Wegener (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)
'Honoring Nepal: People, Places, Art' online exhibition (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)
‘Honoring Nepal: People, Places, Art’ online exhibition, with a photograph by Shashank Shrestha (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)

The online Honoring Nepal is a simple scroll-through site, accented by powerful, high-resolution visuals like a 15th-century mandala from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, interactive panoramas from the Google Cultural Institute, comparisons between historical and contemporary photographs from the Freer and Sackler Galleries, and images of the earthquake’s damage and how life has continued amid the rubble from the Nepal Children’s Art Museum. Photospheres by Kyle Welsby offer 360-degree views of sites like the hilltop Swayambhunath shrines, and a video flyover by Reasonet Mania shows the damage to historic architecture in Bhaktapur Durbar Square.

While the Rubin has also promoted the financial support of Nepal after the disaster, these kinds of cultural initiatives are important to connect a wider public to a distant place. Eventually, the damage from the earthquake will become distant history, yet the country’s cultural heritage, which has endured for centuries, will remain — and it needs protection in order to survive. Visually demonstrating its value is an important step in securing its future.

'Honoring Nepal: People, Places, Art' online exhibition (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)
‘Honoring Nepal: People, Places, Art’ online exhibition, with a still from a video by Reasonet Mania (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)

Honoring Nepal: People, Places, Art is produced by the Rubin Museum of Art and is accessible online.

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