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15.04.2014

The exhibition «The Roerich Pact. History and Modernity» in the Hague (The Netherlands)

The exhibition “The Roerich Pact. History and Modernity” opened last Tuesday in the Peace Palace Library in the Hague


2015 will mark the 80th anniversary of signing the International Treaty for the Protection of the Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historical Monuments also known as the Roerich Pact. To commemorate this anniversary the International Centre of the Roerichs (ICR) jointly with the International Roerichs’ Heritage Preservation Committee (IRHPC) has been organizing the international exhibition project dedicated to this event. The Netherlands became the next implementation phase of this large-scale project.

The exhibition “The Roerich Pact. History and Modernity” opened on April, 15 in the Peace Palace in the Hague, the major international administrative center. It started with rendering a song “Beyond the Crystal Mountain” and screening of the ICR documentary on the relevance of the peacekeeping ideas of Nicholas Roerich. The exhibition has been organized with the support of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Netherlands and direct involvement of Mr. Jeroen Vervliet, Director of the Peace Palace Library, one of the world's largest collections in the field of public international law. It is noteworthy that the exhibition opening took place on the day of signing of the historic document 79 years ago. 

The exposition includes the materials on the origin of the Roerich Pact, unique photos and documents illustrating the realization of initiative by the great Russian humanist Nicholas Roerich who managed to unite the world community and create the international movement for the sake of preservation of Culture for future generations, reproductions of the paintings by the Master. 

Nicholas Roerich, the distinguished Russian painter, scientist, thinker, public figure and peacemaker, notably contributed to the development of the world culture. The elaboration and signing of the Treaty for the Protection of the Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historical Monuments which laid the foundation for the international humanitarian law in the field of preservation of cultural heritage became one of his main achievements. Nicholas Roerich’s slogan “Where there is culture, there is peace” is specifically relevant nowadays in a very tense situation in different parts of the world including the Ukraine when the humanity is again brought to the brink of a cold war. Moreover, the cultural heritage turns to be the priority target in the time of armed conflicts, religious and ethnic feuds. It is well known in the Netherlands that during the World War II the bombardment completely destroyed the historical center of Rotterdam, and the country experienced the horrors of the Holocaust. By this exhibition we would like to strongly contribute to the development of mutual understanding between all people in the regard of enlightenment and humanism.

Mr. Steven Hoogstraten

Opening the exhibition, Mr. Steven van Hoogstraten, General Director of the Carnegie Foundation, which is in the charge of the Library, stressed that Nicholas Roerich was the first to protect cultural properties, for the Pact initiated by him laid the foundation for the preservation and protection of the cultural heritage from looting, illegal trade and destruction. He talked about the concrete initiative of the Defense Ministry of The Netherlands aimed at increasing their knowledge in the field and planting the idea of the necessity of protection and preservation of cultural heritage in the minds of the military personnel. Steven van Hoogstraten expressed gratitude to Mr. A.P. Losyukov, President of the International Centre of the Roerichs and the International Roerichs' Heritage Preservation Committee, to the Vice-president of the ICR Mr. A.V. Stetsenko, to the artist and sculptor Mrs. Ingrid Rollema, to Mrs. H.E. Renilde Steeghs, Ambassador for Cultural Cooperation, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their cooperation in the realization of such a significant project.

Mr. Jeroen Vervliet

In his greeting address Mr. Jeroen Vervliet, Director of the Peace Palace Library, did not conceal his sincere happiness that the exhibition took place despite the difficult international situation. He spoke about the birth of the idea of the exhibition and expressed his gratitude to all ICR and Peace Palace personnel that took direct part in its preparation. Mr. Jeroen Vervliet spoke of the history of the creation and objectives of the Peace Palace in The Hague and mentioned that in May 2014 they will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the adoption of The Hague Convention for the protection of cultural properties in the event of armed conflict. Mr. Vervliet presented a short historical survey of the events of looting and destruction of cultural properties since the Roman Empire and stated that unfortunately the destruction of cultural monuments continues even today in Egypt, Syria and other places. He stressed that the Roerich Pact protects the cultural heritage not only in the event of armed conflict but also in peace and is, therefore, unique due to its offering a complete protection to historic monuments, cultural, artistic and scientific institutions and educative establishments.

Mr. Alexander P. Losyukov

The next to speak was Mr. Alexander P. Losyukov, President of the International Centre of the Roerichs. In his speech he expressed his gratitude for the contribution to the organization of the exhibition dedicated to the Roerich Pact to the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Netherlands and the administration of the Peace Palace. He stressed that the philosophical foundation of the Pact is the idea that evolution of mankind is impossible without realization of the significance of culture and its protection. Nicholas Roerich was the first to unite a major part of international community around the idea of cultural heritage protection. This idea has a special relevance in the world of today. In connection to this, organizing an exhibition on the Roerich Pact in the Peace Palace where the International Court of Justice of the UN is located, is a highly significant event. It was here that in 1899 at the initiative of Russia the First Peace Conference was held. 

Addressing the audience, the artist and lawyer Mrs. Ingrid Rollema confessed that having come into contact with the Roerich's heritage quite recently, she discovered many things she had not even thought about before, and that discovery stunned her. The paintings of Nicholas Roerich have shown her absolutely new horizons. She maintained that the art of Nicholas Roerich demonstrates that he loved entire world. His art is filled with profound meaning and has a noble goal. “For twelve years” – she stressed that – “the Prince Klaus Foundation has been doing what Roerich began to implement one hundred years ago.” Mrs. Rollema particularly stressed that with his thoughts and ideas Nicholas Roerich was far ahead of his time and his legacy, therefore, has a bright future. It was Nicholas Roerich's art that gave her a more profound and better understanding of Russia, the country she sincerely respects. 

Mr. Boris A. ZhilkoMrs. Ingrid RollemaMrs. Renilde Steeghs

In her speech Mrs. Renilde Steeghs, Ambassador for Cultural Cooperation, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs drew the guests' attention to the fact that in 2014 they were celebrating three events: the 140th anniversary of Nicholas Roerich, the 60th anniversary of The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of armed conflict and 15 years since the signing of the Second Protocol of the Hague Convention. She marked that the Roerich Pact laid the foundation for the international law for the preservation of cultural heritage. Nowadays there is an impressive number of international treaties aimed at the protection of cultural properties, which, unfortunately, have not been able to put end to their destruction and looting in the course of multiple wars. The diplomat made special emphasis on the fact that today demolition of objects and cultural items is not only the side consequence of warfare; very often they are being targeted for intentional destruction. Unfortunately at this point only 67 states ratified the Second Protocol to the Hague Conference of 1954. It means that we have still much to do in rescue of cultural values. In conclusion Mrs. Steeghs mentioned culture as a key to the understanding of life and wished everyone to be inspired by Nicholas Roerich and those who undertook difficult mission to continue his activity.

Welcoming the guests Mr. Boris A. Zhilko, Minister-Counselor of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Netherlands noted it is not a coincidence that the exhibition dedicated to the Roerich Pact is being held in the Peace Palace at the anniversary year for Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property. Russian spokesman drew attention to the symbolism of this event in particular the fact that the exhibition is opening at the day of signing the Roerich Pact.



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