Egor Ivanov. Short live of culture destroyers


Today, the International Center of the Roerichs is preparing to export its property from two main buildings of its Non-Governmental Museum named after N.K. Roerich, located in the Moscow Lopoukhins’ estate near the Kremlin. For almost nine months the new owners of the estate, the leaders of the State Museum of Oriental Art, did not allow the workers of the ICR to enter the territory to take their personal belongings and the property of the organization, explaining this by the fact that all the buildings along with the property were transferred to safe custody.

It will be recalled that, on April 28, 2017, several dozen guards of the State Museum of Oriental Art entered the Non-Governmental Museum named after N.K. Roerich and blocked the entrance. The next day, with the participation of the adviser to the Minister of Culture Kirill Rybak, the estate together with all the buildings was transferred to the State Museum of Oriental Art for safe keeping allegedly in the framework of the criminal case against the bankrupt Master Bank. Together with the property of the Roerich Center, the personal belongings of the Museum staff also fell into prison. The workers were allowed to get their belongings only recently, after filing numerous claims in courts against the illegal retention of personal belongings by the leadership of the State Museum of Oriental Art. The State Museum of Oriental Art was forced to start giving the property back to the ICR workers. It’s getting really tough because the workers missed their documents, electronic media with personal data, manuscripts.


                Kulu Valley Hall before the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum Destruction   and after the Destruction

But what the ICR workers saw in the cellars and offices of the museum caused a shock. The new owners from the State Museum of Oriental Art, under the leadership of his Deputy Director Tigran Mkrtychev, while mastering Non-Governmental Museum named after N.K. Roerich did not stand on ceremony with the control of the premises. One can see such a picture there: the expensive museum equipment, that of shop windows and stained-glass windows were broken and piled up in heaps. The friezes, once adorning the museum halls, were deliberately broken and disfigured by the vandals. They are not subject to restoration. Things from all the offices were piled up in ugly heaps. Safes were hacked. The computers of the organization were piled in the toilet rooms. The picture resembles a documentary chronicle of the ruin of Yasnaya Polyana or Peterhof by the fascists during the Great Patriotic War. And the leadership of the State Museum of Oriental Art and the Ministry of Culture called such actions as “the custody” of the ICR equipment! The Prosecutor’s Office and the police also seem to share this opinion. The staff of the ICR have unsuccessfully filed complaints there about the actions of “officials from culture”, each time receiving the same answer “no violations are seen.” Although, apparently, there is an unpunished mockery of the law and the right of high-ranking officials, confident that they will get away with it. But all this is done against a world – famous social organization of culture, which created a unique museum with a world collection of paintings of the Roerichs. The organization was founded and cared for by Svetoslav Roerich, the youngest son of the Great Russian artist Nicholas Roerich. However, for the destroyers of the Non-Governmental Museum, the names of the great representatives of Russian culture are nothing more than a sound. Today they are easily misrepresenting the will of Roerich’s son concerning the preservation of his parents’ heritage in the Non-Governmental Museum housing at the Lopoukhins’ estate, arguing that Svetoslav Roerich actually dreamed of creating a State museum.


The Central-Asian Expedition Hall before the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum Destruction and after the Destruction

At the same time, the position of the youngest Roerich is well known. In his documents and public appearances, he repeatedly testified that the Non-Governmental Museum named after N.K. Roerich in Moscow should not be subordinate to the State Museum of Oriental Art. He, if to believe the portal, expressed it even more definitely in his letter to President Yeltsin.

“In 1990, together with the rest of the heritage, I handed over to the Center (the International Center of the Roerichs as the successor of the Soviet Foundation of the Roerichs) a large exhibition of my father’s and my own paintings totaling 286, which for a long time was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture of the USSR. Now this exhibition is illegally kept by the State Museum of Oriental Art. I beg you to assist in transferring it to the International Center of the Roerichs.

The present situation with the Non-Governmental Museum created by the ICR under the leadership of the authorized representative of Svetoslav Roerich Lyudmila Shaposhnikova can rightfully be called a kind of revenge of the officials to Svetoslav Roerich, who almost thirty years ago expressed an open distrust to the state-bureaucratic system of culture and therefore was steadfast in making in Moscow a Non-Governmental Museum on the basis of the Roerich family heritage, which included hundreds of Nicholas and Svetoslav Roerich paintings, rare collections and a unique family archive with priceless philosophy manuscripts of Helena Roerich. For 25 years of active cultural activity, the Non-Governmental Museum named after N.K. Roerich of the ICR has done much to study and popularize the philosophical and artistic heritage of the Roerichs in Russia and abroad. And now, apparently, we are witnessing a day of reckoning of the Non-Governmental organization for a multifaceted activity of developing and protecting Russian culture, the organization which for many years has been conducted its work outside the subordination of the officials of the Ministry of Culture. This, in my opinion, was the result of the arbitrariness of ignorance, the triumph of which we are witnessing today in our country in the field of cultural policy, when culture is replaced by ideology, moral values by slogans. The value of a cultural institution is measured not in its educational and scientific activity, but in the amount of the profit it receives. The soulless mere degree holders are trying to turn Russia’s culture into a business, replacing its original role of “honoring the light” (Sanskrit’s “cult” as a veneration and “ur” as a light are meant), in other words, to replace development of spirituality and morality by entertainment and leisure.


              George Roerich Hall before the Non-Governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum Destruction and after the Destruction

The illegal, as I see it, seizure and defeat of Roerich’s largest non-governmental museum in Russia gives us much pain and shame to witness. It gives us still much pain and embarrassing that the actions of the officials would be impossible with the active citizenship of national culture figures. But they shyly remained silent, watching the destruction of the museum. Against the backdrop of this ominous deathly silence, bad news about new disasters of our culture become increasingly frequent. Just the other day the news from the “front” arrived about the gradual destruction of the All-Russian Art Research and Restoration Center named after Grabar, the staff of which in despair turned for help to President Vladimir Putin.

Still, I would like to hope that the age of the destroyers of our culture is not long, that their actions will certainly receive a fair assessment and will serve as a lesson to understand the necessity for Russia to move from totalitarian State culture to its actual universal development and preservation based on its social forms dissemination. The experience of the Non-Governmental Museum named after N.K. Roerich of the International Center of the Roerichs showed that it is not only possible, but also necessary if we want to see our country a truly Great Power, but not a country of popcorn and beer.

Source: Nasha Versiya. 23.01.2018

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