Inetrnational Centre of the Roerichs

International Non-Governmental Organization | Special consultative status with UN ECOSOC
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Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York. 1929 – 1938
Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York.
1929 – 1938
In 1920, N. Roerich got an invitation from the Director of the Chicago Institute of Arts to organize a big exhibition tour around 30 cities of the USA. Nicholas Roerich accepted that invitation, and left London together with his family.

N. Roerich belonged to the galaxy of those few thinkers of the 20th century who deeply understood the true significance of Culture and its crucial role in the development of mankind. “Culture rests on Beauty and Knowledge”[2,  p. 60], he wrote, and repeated Dostoyevsky’s famous phrase with a little modification: “Comprehension of Beauty will save the world”[3, p.50]. This formulation covers practically the whole essence of cosmic evolution, which moves from chaos to order, from the simple to the complicated, from system to Beauty. Beauty is only cognized by man through Culture, integral part of which is creative work. This is also discussed in the Living Ethics books, in the creation of which the Roerichs took part directly. Helena Roerich put the Living Ethics’ cosmic ideas in writing and Nicholas Roerich perpetuated them in beautiful artistic images.

Putting into practice these ideas, N. Roerich conducted wide cultural and educational activities in America. In November of 1921, the Master Institute of United Arts was opened in New York, the main purpose of which was to bring peoples together through culture and art. Almost at the same time, artists association “Cor Ardens” (“Blazing Hearts”) was established in Chicago, and in 1922, the International Cultural Center “Corona Mundi” (“Crown of the World”) appeared. In 1923, the New York Nicholas Roerich Museum opened its doors. It contained the richest collection of the artist’s paintings. Institutions founded by Nicholas Roerich became major centers of culture in America, uniting many famous workers of art.

N. Roerich. Kullu. 1930s
N. Roerich. Kullu. 1930s
During that very same year, 1923, the master’s cherished dream came true – on December 2, N. Roerich and his family set foot in India. There the preparation for the most important journey in the life of the great artist started – an expedition to the remotest areas of Central Asia. These areas had for a long time attracted the attention of N. Roerich not only as a painter, but also as a scientist interested in a number of problems related to world migration patterns of ancient peoples, as well as to the search for a common source of Slavic and Indian cultures. Besides purely scientific goals, the expedition pursued an important evolutionary task. The expedition’s challenging itinerary ran through Sikkim, Kashmir, Ladakh, China (Sintzian), Russia (including Moscow), Siberia, Altai, Mongolia, Tibet and unexplored areas of the Trans Himalayas. This unique expedition’s significance and its results have not been fully appreciated by the modern geographic science up-until now. Despite this, Nicholas Roerich’s expedition realized Przhevalsky and Kozlov’s dream and became the triumph of Russian studies in Central Asia. In terms of its itinerary’s uniqueness and collection of materials, it can justly claim an exceptional place among major expeditions of the 20th century. The journey lasted from March of 1925 to May of 1928. For the first time, dozens of new mountain peaks and passes were marked on maps, archeological monuments were discovered, and incredibly rare manuscripts were found. Enormous scientific material was collected; books were written (“The Heart of Asia”, “Altai – Himalayas”); about five hundred paintings were created and, thanks to these, the artist immortalized a special and surprising world, that of high beauty.

After the expedition ended in July of 1928, N. Roerich founded the Institute of Himalayan Studies “Urusvati” that translates from Sanskrit as “The Light of the Morning Star”. In this very place, the Kullu Valley in the Western Himalayas, Nicholas Roerich and his family found their home. There, in India, the artist lived out the last period of life.

In 1934-1935, Nicholas Roerich headed an expedition to the areas of Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, and China, organized by the US Ministry of Agriculture with the purpose of studying drought resistant plants.

During N. Roerich’s expedition, the President of New York’s Nicholas Roerich Museum and N. Roerich’s authorized representative, the American businessman Louis Horch, falsified a series of documents and slandered his Teacher. He then illegally seized the Museum’s batch of shares and proclaimed himself its owner. He secretly removed the paintings and kept a part of them for himself. The vast majority of the canvases were sold at an auction and are still decorating private American collections. After some time, a group of museum workers devoted to the Roerichs obtained new premises for the Museum and acquired a considerable portion of the paintings.

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N. Roerich. Himalayas. Morning. 1941