Bodies in Balance

    March 15, 2014 - September 8, 2014

    Bodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine

    The first major exhibition to present the origins, history and practice of a millennium of visual history, Bodies in Balance explores the guiding principles of the Tibetan science of healing represented in medical paintings, manuscripts, and medical instruments. A multi-media installation shows how Tibetan medicine is used today. The exhibition invites visitors to relate what they discover to their own lives through interactive experiences within the galleries and throughout the Museum including Café Serai and the shop.

    The relationship of Tibetan medicine, Buddhism, and the visual arts has been integral to the development and transmission of this medical tradition. Approximately 140 objects dating from the 9th century to the present day demonstrate the advancement of Tibetan medical knowledge as it was codified in medical texts, illustrated in art, demonstrated by medical tools, and made evident by examples of medicines compounded from natural ingredients and applied in practice. Bodies in Balance provides audiences an opportunity to have a personalized exhibition experience. The Tibetan science of healing is based on an analytical system in which three forces - wind, bile, and phlegm - govern physical and mental aspects of being. Using a brief questionnaire, visitors can determine which of the three forces is dominant in their constitutions and follow a color-coded pathway that highlights the exhibition components most relevant to them. The exhibition includes videos and a touchscreen that provide additional information and interactive experiences of select elements of these practices.

    Curated by Theresia Hofer

    Bodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine Catalog

    Purchase the Bodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine catalog in the Museum shop or by calling 212-620-5000 x350. Orders are also accepted via email at

    Bodies in Balance Catalog Introduction by Curator Theresia Hofer

    Bodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine is made possible, in part, by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation, and Gildan Active Wear, in Honor of Robert Baylis.

    Additional funding is provided through public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Dr. Matthew Goldstein, and the 2014 Exhibitions Fund. 

    Image Credit: Tree of Diagnosis, Copy of Plate 3 of the Lhasa Tibetan Medical Paintings; Lhasa, central Tibet; date unknown; pigments on cloth and brocade; private collection, Chicago

    Exhibition Preview Video

    Exhibition Website

    Are You in Balance? Take the Quiz

    Learn about the balance of your bodily forces by answering a sampling of questions a Tibetan doctor might ask during a diagnostic visit.

    Tibetan Medicine in the World Today: Take the Tour

    This virtual tour of the globe allows you to explore how traditional Tibetan medicine has adapted to contemporary expectations of medicine and new cultural contexts.

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