The former building of the International Center of the Roerichs (ICR) is transferred to The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.
In his blog, rights defender Yuri Samodurov assessed this information in the light of moral standards: “I believe that the readers interested in the destiny of the artistic legacy and archive of the Roerich family, transferred to Russia to the Soviet Roerich Foundation (the International Center of the Roerichs) by Nicholas Roerich’s son, artist Svetoslav Roerich, were surprised to know the news from Interfax: The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts will be entitled to use the premises of the Lopukhins’ estate”.
Thus, I would like to remind the readers of the document relied to the destiny of the Roerichs’ heritage published by a group of Russian cultural workers and rights defenders on 17 March 2017 on the website of Noviye Izvestia and EchoMoskvy…
Despite the fact that more than two years have passed since the Declaration of the Congress of Russian Intellectuals “Stop the destruction of the International Center of the Roerichs” was published, it is still topical and has become even more urgent in the light of a sudden refusal of the Ministry of Culture to establish a branch of the State Museum of Oriental Art, the State Roerich Museum, in the Lopukhins’ estate (despite the fact that in 2017 the Ministry of Culture allocated 36 million rubles for the establishment of this branch).
Now the Minister of Culture Mr. Medinsky decided to change the previous decision and instead of returning the Lopukhins’ estate to the International Center of the Roerichs, as it was requested by those, who signed the declaration, since it was the ICR that raised the estate from ruins and spent two milliard rubles (!) on its renovation and creation of the display of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich, the Minister suddenly transfered the estate to the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.
There is no doubt that the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts is a good museum but the approval of the Pushkin State Museum and its Director Madame Loshak as well as the decision to use the premises of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich, which was cynically and illegally destroyed by the Ministry of Culture, in order to extend the activity of the Pushkin State Museum, does no credit to it and will not bring it glory but will be remembered in the annals of the museum and Russian culture as a MUSEUM IGNOBILITY AND DISHONOR of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, concerning not only its colleagues (the members of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich) but also Svetoslav Roerich, who set forward a fundamental condition for the transfer of the heritage and archive from India to Russia, according to which the heritage was to be transferred to the Soviet Roerich Foundation (the International Center of the Roerichs), which would display it in the non-governmental Museum established by the ICR at the Lopukhins’ estate, chosen by Svetoslav Roerich for this purpose and officially approved by President Gorbachev in 1989 and later by President Eltsin. Madame Loshak knows it.
I am not going to present the whole Declaration of the Congress of Intellectuals (you can find the link above) but I would like to outline several quotes.
“The Roerichs’ heritage (that he transferred to the ICR – Y.S.) includes hundreds of paintings, a unique archive, memorial items and a library. Svetoslav Roerich agreed to transfer the heritage under the condition that it would be owned by the International Center of the Roerichs established upon his initiative but not by a governmental body. That was the very sense of Svetoslav Roerich’s will, which was numerously underlined by the President of the Board of Trustees of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich Anatoliy Karpov and the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation Alexander Avdeev (2008–2012). Svetoslav Roerich appointed Lyudmila Shaposhnikova his agent and executor of his will.
Svetoslav Roerich attached great importance to the non-governmental status of the museum, since he as well as his father hoped that non-governmental forms of culture would be the main factor of revival and development of Russia. According to Svetoslav Roerich, the museum was supposed to be the guardian of the artistic heritage of the Roerichs, express and promote philosophical and ethical quest and scientific work of all members of this family.
The International Center of the Roerichs rebuilt and renovated the half-ruined Lopukhins’ estate and established there the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich without any governmental funding, sponsored by non-governmental donations only. The expenses of the ICR on the renovation, equipment and support of its cultural activity amounted to 2 milliard rubles.
Director General of the Museum named after Nicholas Roerich Lyudmila Shaposhnikova was awarded “Cultural Heritage” National Prize and European Union prize for the renovation of the Lopukhins’ estate and Order of Friendship and Order of Merit to the Fatherland of the IV Degree for the special merits in preservation of the Roerichs’ heritage and development of museology.
During its activity the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich and its travelling exhibitions were visited by more than 4,5 million people. ICR issued more than 200 books on the life and creative work of the Roerichs’ as well as books written by them, with a total circulation of 500 000 copies.
In August 2014, recognizing the merits of the ICR for the renovation of the Lopukhins’ estate, Moscow City Government transferred the buildings of the estate to the International Center of the Roerichs for gratuitous use for ten years. However, in 2015 the leadership of the Ministry of Culture managed to organize the transfer of the estate to the Federal ownership and operational management of the State Museum of Oriental Art. In February 2016, the Ministry of Culture decided to establish a State Roerich Museum, an affiliated branch of the State Museum of Oriental Art, in the Lopukhins’ estate and allocated 36 million rubles for it…
Is it true that the Ministry of Culture is doing it to get another building? Or, perhaps, it aims to satisfy its ambitions and appetites? Does it serve uniformity of cultural space? However, the Ministry does not take into account that the art and philosophy of the Roerichs are indivisible. Philosophical and ethical beliefs of Nicholas Roerich (as well as those of Helena Roerich, Agni Yoga Teaching) were also embodied in the Roerich Pact on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments signed before the World War II by about 20 members of the League of Nations.
We believe that it is extremely important to draw attention to the cultural, political and ethical sides of the “case of the Museum named after Nicholas Roerich”. From our point of view, destruction of this non-governmental museum would mean that arbitrariness and lawlessness would become a common part of our daily life.
One can have different attitudes towards different aspects of the Roerichs’ heritage but nobody is authorized to destroy a successful non-governmental museum, established by Svetoslav Roerich and Lyudmila Shaposhnikova in the Lopukhins’ estate with the governmental approval. Thus, we support the staff of the International Center of the Roerichs, which was established and has been successfully functioning as a non-governmental organization.
We request that the Russian Government fulfill its obligations to Svetoslav Roerich.
We demand that the investigating authorities, the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky return the seized documents and paintings to the International Center of the Roerichs.
We demand that the Federal Agency for State Property Management (Rosimushchestvo) return the buildings of the Lopukhins’ estate, which was illegally transferred to the operational management of the State Museum of Oriental Art in 2015, to the International Center of the Roerichs. The authority of our State is also related to its capability to fulfill its obligations. We call on all people recognizing values of law and culture to support these requirements”.
This declaration (or petition), to which the Minister Medinsky did not respond, was signed by a large number of well-known and respected people, including Russian cultural luminaries. You, Madame Loshak, can talk to some of them in person, if you want.
I have to ask myself and the readers the following questions.
Is the administration of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts authorized to occupy the premises of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich illegally seized by the Ministry of Culture, instead of supporting the request considering the revival of the activity of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich at the Lopukhins’ estate?
We give the same answer. The Pushkin Museum can do it but it will lose its reputation of a noble museum, established by V. Tsvetaev, who created it also in order to teach students and youth art, search for verity and honest way of life. It cannot do so, if museum honor and reputation are important for the future of the Pushkin Museum.
Perhaps, professor and privy councilor V. Tsvetaev, founder and the first director of the Museum of Fine Arts named after Emperor Alexander III of the Imperial Moscow University, would agree that the reputation and museum honor of the Pushkin State Museum should be more important for you, Madame Loshak, than getting new museum premises.
Today the Pushkin State Museum is facing a choice. All educated people who will be visiting new premises of the museum, the Lopukhins’ estate, would know and feel that they are visiting “ruins” and that namely the Pushkin State Museum and its administration in June-July 2019 totally destroyed all chances and the right of the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich to continue its work in the Lopukhins’ estate…”
Source: Noviye Izvestiya. 1.06.2019