In our latest installment of NYC Makers, we profile Meg Ventrudo, the Executive Director of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art. The Museum, located on Lighthouse Hill on Staten Island, is one of Untapped New York Insiders’ Museum Partners offering free admission to our members. Insiders also recently joined a behind-the-scenes tour of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, led by Ventrudo as the museum prepared for the opening of its latest exhibition.
Ventrudo has been the Museum’s Executive Director since 2004 and was previously the Director of Exhibits and Education at the Museum of American Finance in Lower Manhattan. Meg holds degrees in history from Loyola University Maryland and George Mason University and a certificate in Not for Profit Management from Columbia University. She jokes that she has gone from “the Bull to the Buddha” in her transition between museums.

Exterior of the Museum of Tibetan Art in Staten Island

Untapped New York: What has been the most rewarding thing to run such a unique museum, tucked away on Staten Island?

Meg Ventrudo: The Tibetan Museum is the most wonderful place in New York City. There is no place else that you can see such magnificent art in such a cool setting. The pieces are beautiful and each time I look at them, I see something new and different. The most rewarding thing for me is when Tibetan and Nepalese visitors come to the museum and tell us that the museum reminds them “of home.”

Crimson Beech Frank Lloyd Wright HouseCrimson Beech, the Frank Lloyd Wright House on Staten Island is just near the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art

Untapped New York: There are some other great hidden gems just around the museum (Lighthouse, Frank Lloyd Wright, etc.). Tell us a little about your museum’s relationship to them?

Ventrudo: The Tibetan Museum is just one of a slew of interesting places in the Lighthouse Hill neighborhood. When Jacques Marchais moved there in 1919, Lighthouse Avenue was named Seaview Road and it was one of the few paved streets in that area. The Lighthouse has been there since 1912. There is also the Nathaniel J, Wyeth House (1856) which was later owned by the opera star Graham Marr and his partner, a landscape architect Norman Morrison who were neighbors of Jacques Marchais. Other significant architecture includes the Frank Lloyd Wright House and the LaTourette House, so in one neighborhood you have Italianate, Greek Revival, Prairie, and Himalayan style architecture.

Oyster Bar in Grand Centra;

Untapped New York: What’s your favorite “untapped” spot in the city?

Ventrudo: The Oyster Bar at Grand Central – Great architecture and oysters!

Hamilton Grange

Untapped New York: What places are on your NYC bucket list?

Ventrudo: Hamilton Grange and the Morris Jumel Mansion
Untapped New York: You’re in luck because the Morris Jumel Mansion is another fellow Untapped New York Insiders Museum Partner!  And we’ll be organizing tours of Hamilton Grange this spring, feel free to join us!

Untapped New York: What makes New York City great to you?

Ventrudo: New York City is great because of the diversity of people, food, and cultures. Each neighborhood has its own unique story.

Untapped New York: What would you change about New York City?

Ventrudo: I would make the Staten Island Ferry run more frequently.

Untapped New York: What book are you reading now?

Ventrudo:  I am reading River of Life, River of Death: The Ganges and India’s Future. I also just finished The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Untapped New York: What projects are you working on right now?

Ventrudo: This year, the Museum celebrates the 75th Anniversary of its founding. We will have several events throughout the year to commemorate our founder and this milestone. We are also working on a capital project to replace the Museum’s roof and HVAC system. The upgrade to the environmental controls will enable us to display more of the objects, including the textiles, in the collection.

Untapped New York: Which projects from the past are you most proud of?

I am most proud of hosting HH the Sakya Trizin at the Museum. It was a great day for our members and visitors and we were blessed to have him with us.

Untapped New York: What projects in the city are exciting to you right now?

Ventrudo: I want to go check out The Vessel.

Untapped New York: What advice would you give people starting their careers today?

Ventrudo: I would tell them to do something they love and they will have a rewarding career.

Untapped New York: Tell us one surprising thing about yourself!

I collect salt and pepper shakers. I think I have 100 sets!
Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art holds guided meditation and Tai Chi classes every weekend, along with yoga, dance workshops, film screenings and performances. Check out the Museum’s calendar of events.
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Meg Ventrudo headshot courtesy of the Jacque Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art.