Public Museum in the light of international standards

Galina Schneider


We represent the Roerich cultural organizations of Europe, closely cooperating with the ICR for many years. Many of the members of our organizations participated in the creation of the Public Museum named after N.K. Roerich in Moscow and we know those who oppose the ICR and what is behind it.

There occurred an outrageous fact - without a court decision, without legal grounds, the staff of the ICR and its Public Museum of the ICR were expelled by force from the occupied buildings, the museum is closed, there is a direct threat to the safety of the collection and artifacts. This is a blatant fact when the judicial system is not taken into account. In this situation, not just the public museum suffered, but also the right for independent culture .And we want to express our opinion about what happened.

Svyatoslav Roerich during the transfer of the family's heritage to his homeland insisted on the creation of a public Center-Museum. It was his independence, disobedience to state structures, in charge of cultural issues, that were important moments in his will! Svyatoslav Roerich took into account the fate of the legacy of Yuri Roerich in the USSR, when, through the will of the state bodies, the legacy was inaccessible to the general public.

The destruction of the public museum is directly related to us. We love the culture of multinational Russia and we know it. We actively participated in international cultural and peace-making projects conducted by the ICR - namely, seminars, exhibitions, culture days, which raised N. Roerich's ideas about the need to protect culture, but also raised the image of Russia as a country of high culture. Now, the International Organization "ICR" was slandered, numerous trials were instituted against it, it was accused of spreading the fascist swastika, etc. It is all drawn to us, too! In addition, all this applies to the leadership of the Russian Federation, which has repeatedly awarded the ICR with high awards for the preservation and popularization of the heritage of the Roerichs, for the restoration of the architectural monument "The Lopukhins' Manor", for the large-scale exhibition project "The Roerich Pact. History and modernity." The question arises, was this all untrue, undeserved?

The basic rule of modern international standards (set forth in the acts of UNESCO) is the independence of the public cultural organization. State shock bodies should not participate as founders and its members, should not interfere with its decisions and activities; public organizations and the state should cooperate on the basis of equality.

We, as public organizations, can not be indicated with whom to cooperate. And such a tough and illegal action to the well-known public organization of the ICR damages the reputation of Russia itself, and the leadership of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation must realize and understand it. The destruction of the cultural organization, which has done so much for the country, destroys those cultural ties between Russia and international organizations that were established many years ago.

Creation of the "manipulated" public, which is now actively executed by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, will not give any result. The social movement is called "social" because it is free in its choice.

The so-called "public organization" of the NRC envisages the participation of public authorities as founders, which does not comply with either Russian legislation or international standards related to public organizations. Consequently, the NRC is an organization controlled by the state and also aspires to become the focus of the Roerich movement; aspires to be the best "platform" for cooperation between the Roerich organizations and the state in the conservation and study of the Roerich heritage.

The role of the coordinating center of the Roerich movement is predetermined by the State Museum of the East, in particular the planned state museum of the Roerich family. This is stated in the responses to our appeals to the President's Reception Office on the situation around the ICR and the public Museum, which were prepared by the Ministry of Culture.

Can the system of state bodies have a public organization as its leading center? The answer is obvious: it cannot. It is also impossible for the public movement, including the international movement, to have a state structure as its coordinating center.

How can we assess the desire of today's leadership of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation to become a "coordinator" of a whole social movement consisting of non-governmental organizations?! This attempt is even more striking, given the international character of the movement. The desire to subdue indicates, of course, the contempt.

Creation of the state museum of the Roerich family on ruins and at the expense of the property of the public museum of the ICR is attempted to be made legal. From the answer we received: "Its (the state museum of the Roerich family ) placement in the Lopukhins' estate would be a worthy realization of the original design of S. N. Roerich about the museum and the center of the Roerich heritage". That is, to assign illegally owned property of Svyatoslav Roerich, which he personally handed over to the International Center of the Roerichs, and expel the public Museum of the ICR from the Lopukhins estate restored by the ICR from the ruins entirely on public funds, without a single penny from the state.

What kind of idea are we talking about? The idea of ​​Svyatoslav Nikolaevich Roerich to create a public museum was, according to his will, carried to life by the public International Center of the Roerichs founded by him. For 26 years, this public Center-Museum of the world level has been working at the Lopukhins' Manor in Moscow and supports the authority of Russian culture throughout the world.

The leadership of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation prefers not to notice the objective reality of the existence of the ICR and its successful activities, disseminating in its texts information that is absolutely untrue.

The public museum is represented by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation as a kind of private, closed organization that can ransack the heritage at any time, deprive Russia of wealth. This is a blasphemy against the public museum as a phenomenon; it is the crossing out of everything done in 26 years of successful work!

The recommendations of UNESCO refer to museums as custodians of heritage (Article 23 of UNESCO's recommendations on museums from 2015). Regardless of its status, the museum is obliged to preserve the heritage for the benefit of society and transmit it to future generations.

Collection of the public museum named after N.K. Roerich's ICR has not diminished by any picture, not a single work of art .On the contrary, during these years many valuable things were donated to the museum, including paintings by the Roerichs. They were returned to Russia by donating to the public museum and was openly displayed in the exposition of the museum. But now we have reason to doubt the safety of the collection: on March 7-8, 2017, about 200 works of art belonging to the public museum on legal grounds were seized by force. At the present time, values ​​are being exported, some inventory of the collection - but without the presence of employees of the public museum, its leadership. Where can you see such lawlessness and violation of the law, the excess of power and official powers of civil servants?

The leadership of the Russian Federation has always advocated the observance of international law. This, of course, strengthens the authority of Russia and can only inspire respect.

But how should we understand the actions of the leadership of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, which directly and roughly violate international standards concerning public organizations?

The Roerichs made an important contribution to the development of international standards, including those about public museums. Important aspects:

European Association for Support of the ICR and the Public Museum named after N.K. Roerich is not standing indifferently apart. Some of the most important issues are touched upon: freedom of citizens, human rights, the will of donors is violated, an unprecedented robbery of the public museum takes place. I sent letters to UNESCO, ICOM, to the European Parliament to the commission on culture and education. The legacy of the Roerich family belongs not only to Russia, it belongs to the world. Many people from different countries of the world visited the museum, left their feedback and words of admiration for the exposition.

Madame Marie-Louise Sadden. Artist, teacher: “In my opinion, the ICR occupies a special position among museums in general. We will not find anywhere in the world such a museum, where the life of N. K. Roerich is presented. I think that this particular form of the exposition, the selection of paintings and ideas of the Roerichs' family - it is necessary to include Elena Roerich and both sons - are such that philosophical ideas are visually represented in the pictures. So, visitors of the museum were informed of the vitality and diversity of their creative path.”

We are struck by the lack of any adequate response from the ICOM National Committee of Russia to the ICR appeal. Representatives of other national committees, in particular Germany, expressed their bewilderment and sympathy for the harsh actions against the public Museum. The National Committee of Russia expressed nothing, no request, no reaction.

Does this mean that it has already been decided at a high level that the public museum named after N.K. Roerich ICR has no right to exist?! Does this mean that the will of the donor can be forgotten, not fulfilled? Does this mean that it is now dangerous to give museums cultural values, it is dangerous to protect culture?! Does this mean that everything can be changed if there is power? As the former chairman of the Supreme Arbitration Court of Russia Anton Ivanov said recently at the Legal Forum in St. Petersburg on May 17, 2017: "State bodies are built in such a way that the skill of a lawyer in dealing with them does not matter. You can be an excellent specialist and speaker, but if there is an installation to solve the case bypassing the law, it cannot be overcome."

We express our protest against illegal forceful methods directed against the public museum named after N. K. Roerich ICR and appeal to the leadership of the Russian Federation in the person of President V.V. Putin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers D.A. Medvedev, to the State Duma to stop illegal actions against the ICR and its museum in Moscow. To fulfill the guarantees of the state, given to S. Roerich, to resume the work of the public museum named after N.K. Roerich ICR in the Lopukhins' Manor.