Jacques Marchais, an art dealer and collector, never traveled to Asia, but the artifacts she gathered from Tibet, as well as from Nepal, Mongolia and northern China, became the passion of her life. Her dream to display this collection to the public was realized in 1947 when, just a few months before her death, the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art opened atop a hill on Staten Island, next door to her house.

The museum was designed to resemble a Himalayan monastery, and she and a local Italian mason, Joseph Primiano, worked to find the stones needed to recreate its traditional mountain feel.

In 1976, The New York Times compared the museum, with its pagoda-shaped roofs, small meditation rooms, library, exquisite garden and heralded collection, to “Shangri-La on Staten Island.” The Dalai Lama visited in 1991.

But despite its rich history and holdings, the museum today is showing its age and the burdens of being a small institution with limited funds and little staff.