Housed within a complex designed to resemble a mountainside monastery, the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art immerses visitors within an environment intended to foster a widespread appreciation for the artistic and cultural creations of the Himalayan peoples. The fieldstone buildings were inspired by photographs of the Potala Palace?the historic seat of the Dalai Lamas?and the surrounding landscape features terraced gardens, lotus and goldfish ponds, and secluded nooks for meditation or high-stakes staring competitions. This connection to Himalayan architecture is also apparent in the structures' architectural details, such as a flat roof crowned with a four-sided pagoda, the trapezoidal windows, and the slate-capped doorways. When taken together, all of these architectural and landscaping features allow visitors to lose themselves in the setting while viewing the collection of artwork and culturally relevant artifacts.
The museum's permanent collection focuses on rare and sacred pieces from Tibet and nations influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, such as Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, and northern China. Featuring works from the 12th?20th centuries, this selection includes everything from bronze sculptures and silk-backed scroll paintings to furniture, photographs, and ritualistic objects. Allowing guests to view these items is only one aspect of the museum's mission though. Additionally, the staff members encourage visitors to engage with Himalayan culture by participating in tai chi and guided-meditation classes that the instructors lead on select days.