The newspaper Novie Izvestia
November, 13th, 2018
The Ministry of Culture ordered to remove the memorial with the ashes of the family of the great Russian artists from the Lopoukhins’ estate in Moscow. According to the officials, the sculptures and busts are of no legal value. For three years the Museum of the Roerichs is torn apart by conflicts. The collectible treasures, meanwhile, are necessary to be saved from fungus.
The confrontation between the International Center of the Roerichs and the Ministry of Culture has been continuing in the Lopoukhins’ Estate in Maly Znamensky Lane in the center of Moscow. The non-governmental organization, to which the family of the famous Russian artists and thinkers bequeathed most of its creative heritage, was evicted under the pressure of litigation from the inhabited abode. New hosts began their cultural mission in the Roerich Museum with a very unusual order.
The newspaper “Novie Izvestia” has obtained this document. The State Museum of Oriental Art demands to dismantle and transfer the Memorial of the Roerichs with their ashes from the estate. The Memorial, namely the sculptures of Nicholas and Helena Roerich and the busts of their sons Svetoslav and George, was erected in honor of the prominent family. It is the non-governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum of the International Center of the Roerichs that has the rights of ownership of the Monument. And the International Center of the Roerichs offered the new owners to leave the Memorial on the territory of the estate free of charge. Despite this, the new owners with giving no reasons will part with the Roerich monuments without any regret.
“In general, the State Museum of Oriental Art is not interested in the Roerichs. They are interested, as they always say, in assets. For them the Roerichs’ heritage is the “assets”. For us, the Roerichs’ heritage is a cultural and national treasure,” said Pavel Zhuravikhin, the First Deputy Director General of the non-governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum, that was evicted from the estate. “I was at work on April 28th, 2017, when the private security of the State Museum of Oriental Art without a court decision, by force, got all our employees out of our Museum. The new owners said, “Now it is the State museum”. They demanded to remove all the monuments from the territory. The people who destroyed the non-governmental museum, who, as we believe, appropriated most of the heritage, who sneered at the will of the Roerichs, who demanded to throw the Roerichs’ monuments with the Roerichs ashes from the territory, position themselves as a State. But, in fact, they are destroying all made by the Roerichs. This is a substitution!”
The museum worker said that the new owners have already demonstrated their true attitude to the memory of the great family. Helena Roerich’s diaries, which she requested not to publish for at least 100 years from the date of her death, are being scanned and aired by the Ministry of Culture and the State Museum of Oriental Art.
“But more recently, everything was different. In 2015, the same officials called the International Center of the Roerichs and its employees “the etalon custodians of works of art.” Advisor to the Minister of Culture of Russia Kirill Rybak offered to demonstrate the museum to all museum workers as an example of “how to take care of collections.” Now the Roerich collections are vigorously destroyed”, Zhuravikhin goes on describing the situation. “The security alarm system of the exhibits is out of order as well as partially the ventilation; the walls of the museum are covered with mold.”
The leadership of the International Center of the Roerichs has concluded that the State in general has no position on the Memorial Ensemble with the ashes of the Roerichs.
“The Ministry of Culture has transferred all rights to the operational manager that of the State Museum of Oriental Art. And let it, the officials say, dispose of it. But the State Museum of Oriental Art just wants to get rid of [the monuments]. Nobody cares where to erect the monuments in the case of removal. It beggars belief! The monuments of the Roerichs, as the non-governmental museum itself, were the will of Svetoslav Roerich, the son of the Roerichs. And the monuments were, what is important, the point of the obligation of the State to the artist, according to which the Roerichs’ heritage was returned and donated to Russia. The museum was established with the money of the public. The will of Svetoslav Roerich appeared not to be important for the authorities. But it is the will of the donor that is of priority throughout the world, and the State is obliged to do the will of the donor. Nicholas Roerich is not a minor figure, he is a great Russian artist, and such an attitude towards his heritage is a crime against Russian people and Russian culture, there is no other way to describe all this,” Pavel Zhuravikhin said.
The newspaper “Novie Izvestia” has got in touch with the head of the department of museums of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation Vladislav Kononov to ask about the fate of the Roerich Memorial erected in honor of the painter, and that of the Museum itself.
The official said that it is the State Museum of Oriental Art that disposed of the Roerichs’ collection at present. The Roerich’s pictures are in a temporary exhibition at the restored pavilion of the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy “Zdorovye” (Health).
“We’ve taken a decision to prepare and by the beginning of spring to open a full-fledged museum of the Roerichs with open funds storing and interesting design of the pavilion. The State Museum of Oriental Art is now working out the concept of the permanent exposition of the Roerichs,” Vladislav Kononov said.
“The Roerichs’ sculptures,” as the head of the department of museums of the Ministry of Culture said, “are not the memorials in legal sense, and that’s why the State doesn’t care about them.”
“The International Center of the Roerichs was offered to take everything they could out of the estate. I do not follow all this in my day-to-day process. The sculptures and busts were exposed as exhibits but not as memorials. In order to set up a memorial it is necessary to go through very long procedure in Moscow City Duma, through public discussions and the Commission on monumental art. There are cases when something is exposed in a closed territory as works of art, as for example, in the alley of the leaders, but you understand that it is not a memorial in legal sense. It is temporary exhibiting,” Vladislav Kononov said.
The official added that the Lopoukhins’ estate, where the non-governmental Nicholas Roerich museum was located for many years, would be closed for major repairs in 2019.
“The state of the Museum does not allow either to store museum collections, or to exhibit them. I cannot give a timetable for the repair, since at first everything is to be taken out to the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy in order to organize a permanent museum of the Roerichs.”
At the same time, the Ministry of Culture aims to find a new owner for the estate.
“We are discussing whom we will transfer the Lopoukhins’ estate. The final decision will be made when the timing of repair and restoration works is clear. Now the estate is in the operational management of the State Museum of Oriental Art, but this whole quarter is the territory of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. Various options are considered, but the decision will be made due to the timing of the restoration work, as well as the concept of use, which both the State Museum of Oriental Art and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts will present.”
The International Council of the Roerich Organizations considers the measures taken by the State Museum of Oriental Art together with the Ministry of Culture to be nothing more than the planned destruction of the Roerichs’ Museum, and this thoughtless activity can lead to irreversible consequences and cause irreparable harm to the cultural heritage of Russia associated with the names of the Roerichs.
The International Council of the Roerich Organizations named after Svetoslav Roerich asked the editors to publish a statement on this issue, which is addressed to the general public:
“Statement of the International Council of the Roerich Organizations named after Svetoslav Roerich concerning the fate of the Sculpture-Memorial Complex in the Lopoukhins’ estate, dedicated to the Roerichs family
Since April 2017 and throughout 2018, the leadership of the State Museum of Oriental Art, having captured the Lopoukhins’ estate buildings, in which the collections and the property of the International Center of the Roerichs were located, implemented a number of targeted measures with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation which led to the destruction of the non-governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum of the International Center of the Roerichs and negatively affected its cultural activities. The aggressive destructive actions of the State Museum of Oriental Art and the Ministry of Culture were not stopped by the authorities, but were apparently, recognized as a benefit to society! Numerous protest statements and appeals of the wide Russian and international cultural community were ignored, and the mayhem of irresponsibility and impunity is going on…
Today, the leadership of the State Museum of Oriental Art has offered the International Center of the Roerichs to dismantle and take away  the Memorials of Nicholas and Helena Roerichs and the busts of George and Svetoslav Roerichs, established in the Lopoukhins’ estate territory in memory of our outstanding compatriots. The intentions are quite clear. According to the head of the department of museums of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation V. Kononov, in 2019 the estate will be closed for repairs, but the user of the estate after the repair has not yet been appointed. Either the State Museum of Oriental Art or the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts  could become its beneficial owner.
The Memorial of Nicholas and Helena Roerichs having no equal in Russia and abroad was created by sculptors S. Mantserev and V. Kuznetsov. It was inaugurated in the Lopoukhins’ estate on October 9th, 1999. These were jubilee festivities dedicated to the 125th anniversary of Nicholas Roerich, those of the 120th of Helena Roerich, and the 95th of Svetoslav Roerich, together with the 10th anniversary of the International Center of the Roerichs. The monument was, in a very real sense, the national monument. It was built at the expense of patrons and on public donations. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation Yuli Vorontsov, the Minister of the Moscow Government Kemer Norkin, the representative of the UNESCO Moscow Office V. Shestakov, the representative of the UN Information Center in Moscow V. Pavinsky, Vice-President of the Russian Cultural Foundation A. Titkov, authority figures, representatives of government agencies and public organizations participated in the ceremony.
The inauguration of the sculptural busts of George and Svetoslav Roerichs (the sculptor was Y. Gavyuk) took place on October 8th, 2004, and was timed to the International Scientific and Public Conference dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Svetoslav Roerich. The Ambassador of India to the Russian Federation Kanval Sibal, the Minister of Culture and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation A. Sokolov, the Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Moscow A. Gorelik, the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation, Academician Ye. Primakov and other Russian and foreign guests joined in the celebration.
Over the past decades of the International Center of the Roerichs and the non-governmental Nicholas Roerich museum activity hundreds of thousands of visitors became acquainted with the sculptural images of the Roerichs, the great figures of world culture, peacekeepers, devotees. The Roerichs’ monuments in the Lopoukhins’ estate acquired a nationwide significance, turned into real magnets of culture, for the Roerichs were holders of an unshakable faith in the future of Russia. Neither in Russia nor abroad there is anything like this Sculpture-Memorial Complex that is carrying the fire of the spirit of the four Roerichs.
The sculptural images of the Roerichs are an embodiment of the Russian people’s memory and gratitude to the great compatriots. They cannot be regarded as a “redundant” element of the architectural complex of the Lopoukhins’ estate, which was chosen personally by Svetoslav Roerich to create the International Nicholas Roerich Center-Museum. The Memorial of Nicholas and Helena Roerich, the busts of George and Svetoslav Roerichs, as a single sculpture-memorial group, is reflecting an important segment of the Russian history and our interaction with the past and the present. The monuments’ demolition or transfer from the territory in which they were originally installed, may amount to contempt of the great names and an expression of short-sightedness of those who seeks to rewrite history in their own image. Russia confronted with such ways of political struggle more than once. The current situation in relation to the outstanding cultural figures who donated their precious heritage of creativity and wisdom to Russia was characterized by complete immorality.
It is disturbing that the demolition of the monuments from the Lopoukhins’ estate was announced on the eve of the Anniversary Year of the Roerichs, that of the 145th anniversary of Nicholas Roerich, the 140th of Helena Roerich and the 115th of Svetoslav Roerich. The glaring injustice of this decision of the authorities cannot but cause outrage and concern over the future of the Sculpture-Memorial Complex, because the memory of the Roerichs depicted in the works of art is destroyed. To date, the fate of the collection of the artistic heritage of the International Center of the Roerichs, seized by the State Museum of Oriental Art in 2017, is unknown. The Roerichs’ Memorials would expect to suffer the same fate.
The International Council of the Roerich Organizations named after Svetoslav Roerich considers the attitude of the leadership of the State Museum of Oriental Art and the Ministry of Culture to the Sculpture-Memorial Complex of the Roerichs to be antihistorical and anticultural, and strongly protests against the dismantling and removing the Memorial of Nicholas and Helena Roerichs, as well as the sculptural busts of George and Svetoslav Roerichs from the territory of the Lopoukhins’ estate.
The International Council of the Roerich Organizations named after Svetoslav Roerich“