Inetrnational Centre of the Roerichs

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ATTENTION!
Since April 28, 2017, the Non-Governmental Museum Named after Nicholas Roerich went defunct with the illegal seizure of its building and territory.

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19.05.2021

Statement by the International Council of Roerich Organizations Named after Svetoslav Roerich

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In April 2021, the International Center of the Roerichs won an important victory. The Moscow City Arbitration Court satisfied the ICR's claim against the State Museum of Oriental Art for reclaiming property from a foreign illegal ownership, that of 500 items of the ICR memorial and clothing fund. The Roerich family rarities, those of personal belongings of Nicholas and Helena Roerich, a collection of Indian miniatures, a collection of bronze, that were illegally seized in April 2017 by the State Museum of Oriental Art (SMOA) from the International Center of the Roerichs (ICR) are subject to return. For four years, the ICR has been asserting its legitimate rights to the Roerichs' heritage, which was transferred to it in October 1992 by Svetoslav Roerich (Testamentary Disposition “Archive and legacy of Roerich for the Soviet Roerich Foundation in Moscow”; The Order of Svetoslav Roerich of 10.22.1992). The decision of the Moscow Arbitration Court in favor of the ICR is by no means a happy accident. The enormous selfless work and courage of the ICR workers, the desire to deal effectively and legally with complex issues in the name of restoring justice, together with of the support of public organizations of Russia and many other countries, these are the components of these gains which prove the advantages and great possibilities of cooperation.

The drive for high goals is always accompanied by the resistance from the old, the outgoing. Its inertia creates temporary obstacles on the way to the new, progressive, but the evolution nevertheless is moving forward, towards the era of Culture, cooperation, and tolerance. “Fighting for the Museum, we are fighting for our country. For the destruction of Nicholas Roerich Museum... will push aside its better future ” (L.V. Shaposhnikova). To support the first shoots of a new social consciousness, which can only be formed on the powerful cultural creative basis of the Roerichs' heritage, is our duty and overriding priority.

As witnesses and participants of cultural, scientific and educational activities of the ICR and its Museum, as volunteers and assistants of the ICR, we affirm:

1) The International Center of the Roerichs is the legal owner of the Roerichs' heritage, transferred to it by Svetoslav Roerich yet in the time of his life. The ICR and its Nicholas Roerich non-governmental Museum were created on the initiative of Svetoslav Roerich. To this day Svetoslav Roerich remains the honorary president of the ICR.

2) For more than a quarter of a century, the ICR conscientiously and openly owned the Roerichs' heritage and maintained its integrity. During this period, not a single museum item was lost or taken out, on the contrary, the museum collections were multiplied thanks to the help of patrons and the public. More than 500 traveling exhibitions of the Roerichs' paintings were held in agreement with the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation in Russian cities and around the world. As a conscientious owner of the Roerichs' heritage, the ICR registered the paintings transferred to it by Svetoslav Roerich in the non-state part of the Museum Fund of the Russian Federation (Certificate No. 15 of 11.02.2008 on the Registration of the Museum Items and the Museum Collections in the Museum Fund of the Russian Federation // Archive of the ICR). Thus, the ICR has always acted within the framework of the law of the Russian Federation.

3) All international cultural and educational projects of the ICR were always welcomed and supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and other authorities, as evidenced by numerous State awards and appreciations. Ministers of Culture N.P. Dementieva, A.S. Sokolov, A.A. Avdeev expressed their gratitude to the ICR for creating the Nicholas Roerich non-governmental Museum, preserving the Roerichs' heritage, restoring the historical monument of the Lopukhins' estate without State financial assistance. The tenure of V.R. Medinsky as a Minister has become a sad exception. It was then that the attitude towards the ICR changed dramatically. All norms of law, ethics and morality were violated. A direct consequence of this non-constructive policy towards the ICR was the raider seizure of the Lopukhins' estate in 2017, the destruction of the permanent exhibition of the Nicholas Roerich non-governmental Museum, the seizure of the heritage belonging to the ICR and its transfer by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation to the jurisdiction of the State Museum of Oriental Art.

4) The Nicholas Roerich non-governmental Museum of ICR, which was created under the leadership of L.V. Shaposhnikova, was equipped with modern museum equipment, which contributed to the creation of unique technical conditions favorable for exhibiting paintings and the museum items. The concept of the Museum's exposition, developed by its Director – General, Honored Worker of Culture of the Russian Federation L.V. Shaposhnikova, was aimed at revealing beauty and depth of the richest artistic and philosophical heritage of the Roerich family. All this is strikingly different from today’s attitude of the SMOA to the Roerichs' heritage, which was seized from the ICR and which is now under the authority of the Museum of Oriental Art. The exposition “Preserving Culture. The Roerich Museum at the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy” which was hastily done and opened in 2019, did not meet museum standards. Its work was accompanied by scandals, inspections by commissions, prescriptions from the Prosecutor General's Office and Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare. It was related to improper storing and exhibiting paintings. As a result, under public pressure the exhibition of the SMOA “Preserving Culture. The Roerich Museum at the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy” was closed in 2021 for the period of the pavilion's repair and renovation. However, there are no guarantees for cardinal changes of the makeshift exhibition hall at the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy after its renovation.

5) The ICR consistently and steadily fulfills the will of Svetoslav Roerich about the creation of the Nicholas Roerich non-governmental Museum. According to Svetoslav Roerich's plan, the Center-Museum, located in the Lopukhins' estate, should have "independence, flexibility, and the ability to function above departmental barriers, using new, non-traditional approaches, direct reaching the international community." “Its subordination to the Ministry of Culture or the State Museum of Oriental Art "would result in unjustified... deliberate narrowing the tasks and opportunities". (Svetoslav Roerich. “We must not delay!” // Sovetskaya Kultura, 07.29.1989). When Svetoslav Roerich transferred the Roerichs' heritage to Russia, the State gave him guarantees to assist in creating the Nicholas Roerich non-governmental Museum in the Lopukhins' estate (Moscow). (Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the USSR No. 950 of 04.11.1989; Decision of the Executive Committee of the Moscow City Council No. 2248 of 28.11.1989). However, in our time, the will of Svetoslav Roerich, as a donor of the heritage, was trampled by the State in the person of the former leadership of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation: the ICR and its Nicholas Roerich non-governmental Museum were expelled from the Lopukhins' estate, and the Roerichs' heritage belonging to the ICR was illegally confiscated and is now under the jurisdiction of the SMOA, like the estate itself.

6) The public is deeply concerned about the current state, storage conditions and integrity of the Roerichs' heritage, which is now under the jurisdiction of the State Museum of Oriental Art. There are substantial reasons for this. So, at one of court hearings the SMOA reported the missing of two drawings by George Roerich from the collections. (We remind that all the property was illegally confiscated from the ICR in 2017.) When the ICR produced evidence that this statement was false, the SMOA “discovered” them. It became known, as part of another court hearing, that other 20 items from the ICR clothing fund disappeared. (We remind that all the property is now under the jurisdiction of the SMOA.) Such irresponsible attitude towards the Roerichs' heritage on the part of the SMOA demonstrates full indifference of the State Museum to preserving the invaluable heritage of the Roerich family and gives rise to very serious concerns for its integrity.

The actions of the State Museum of Oriental Art, supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, violate the will of Svetoslav Roerich and pose a threat to the safety and integrity of the Roerichs' heritage, as well as obstruct the full operation of the Nicholas Roerich non-governmental Museum of the ICR. In general, such an approach of the State Museum of Oriental Art is antisocial in nature, since it nullifies the fruit of years of labour of the ICR volunteers, who worked for a quarter of a century in the Lopukhins' estate.

In this regard, we consider it necessary to affirm that the public will continue to assist the ICR in all matters aimed at fulfilling the will of Svetoslav Roerich, namely:

– to return illegally confiscated heritage of the Roerichs to the International Center of the Roerichs in its entirety;

– to transfer the Lopukhins' estate for indeterminate gratuitous use to the ICR;

– to resume the activities of the Nicholas Roerich non-governmental Museum of the ICR in the Lopukhins' estate.

We now return to the proposal to establish a state – public commission in order to jointly solve the problems of preserving the integrity of the Roerichs' heritage which was confiscated from the ICR, as well as ensuring the necessary storage conditions. Along with representatives of State structures, it is necessary to incorporate into the commission the representatives of the ICR, which is the legal owner of the Roerichs' heritage, as well as the representatives of the International Council of Roerich Organizations named after Svetoslav Roerich and public Roerich organizations which participated for several decades not only in the formation and development of the Nicholas Roerich non-governmental Museum of the ICR, but also in the Roerichs' heritage preserving, investigating and promoting. These steps are necessary to create a true picture of today's state of the Roerichs' heritage, which was illegally confiscated from the ICR and is currently under the jurisdiction of the State Museum of Oriental Art. In addition, such a commission will contribute to the solution of the main issue that is the fulfillment of the will of Svetoslav Roerich.

The International Council of Roerich Organizations named after Svetoslav Roerich 2.05.2021

Source: The International Council of Roerich Organizations named after Svetoslav Roerich



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