Staten Island is known for a lot of things, from its namesake ferry, to its minor league baseball team.
But even many residents have no idea that Staten Island also is home to a renowned museum of Tibetan art.
Our Roger Clark checks it out.
Atop a hill in a residential Staten Island neighborhood, this building stands out. Designed to resemble a Tibetan Mountain Monastery, it is home to treasures from the Himalayan region dating to the 12th Century.
"We have Tibetan visitors come here and they tell us the museum reminds them of home," said Meg Ventrudo, the museum's executive director. "So she really did get the architecture correct."
She was Jacques Marchais — a one-time child actress who developed an affinity for Tibetan culture in the late 1920s — deciding to establish a museum featuring her collection in then sleepy Staten Island, first opened to the public in 1947.
"It gives you an opportunity to view Tibetan art that you just can't see anywhere else," Ventrudo said.
Like a 12th Century Stupa, used by Buddhists as a centerpiece of mediation, often containing relics or remains of Buddhist monks or nuns. And many shrines and statues, all centuries old. The Dalai Lama himself, Tibet's Spiritual Leader, visited in 1991. An outdoor garden is also a place for mediation, the perfect spot to step away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
"Which was Jacques intention 70 something years ago, to have this place that's almost retreat like," Ventrudo said. "Where you are surrounded by trees in the summertime, and you say you can't leave Manhattan is just a 30 minute ferry ride away."
In addition to the collection of art that visitors can see here there's also a variety of activities for adults and children alike.
"Usually we have some family programs, we have a meditation class every Saturday morning, we have Tai Chi Saturday afternoons," Ventrudo said.
The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Visit the museum's web site to plan your trip.