Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Nicholas Roerich Museum

Sunday's New York Times highlighted one of Manhattan's lesser-known Slavic outposts: the Nicholas Roerich Museum on the Upper West Side.

The article, Seth Kugel's
Specialty Museums: Finding Art, Not Crowds, in New York, also covered the Dahesh Museum, the Swiss Institute, the Museum at FIT and the Museum of the Chinese in America.

Nicholas Konstantinovich Roerich was born in St. Petersburg on 9 October 1874 to upper middle class parents. He rose to prominence in artistic circles as part of Diaghilev's Mir Iskusstva movement, and his work was among those exhibited in Paris in the landmark 1906 exhibition Diaghilev had organized. He also collaborated with Igor Stravinsky on Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring).

With the 1917 Revolution, the Roerich family found itself in Finland and managed to escape to the United States in 1920 and he founded an organization called the Master Institute of United Arts in New York in 1921, where he wanted to realize educational concepts he had initiated in St. Petersburg.

By 1923, he and his wife Helena were in India, where they began the explorations of Central Asia that would occupy the rest of their lives. From 1928 until his death in 1947, Roerich lived in the Kullu valley in the Himalayan foothills, and it was there that he established the Urusvati Himalayan Research Institute.

Roerich's school closed in 1937 during the Great Depression but was reopened in 1949 as the
Nicholas Roerich Museum, at 319 West 107th Street. The museum features about 200 of Roerich's paintings, mostly from his Himalayan expeditions but also including set designs for Le Sacre du Printemps. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., and admission is by donation.

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