The museum of Mystery in Novosibirsk
The Museum of Nikolas Roerich in Novosibirsk, located in the ‘quiet downtown’, Kommunisticheskaya St. 38, is one of ten museums on the Globe devoted to life and artistic, research and literary heritage of this great Russian artist, his wife Helena and their sons George and Styatoslav. The museum attracts hundreds of followers of Nicholas (Nikolai Konstantinovich) Roerich (1874 – 1947), a famous Russian painter, writer, scientist, traveler, archaeologist, public figure, and thinker. He and his wife and muse Helena, a brilliant writer and translator, are often associated with Agni Yoga, a spiritual teaching also referred to as the Teaching of Living Ethics, the Teaching of Life, the Teaching of Light, or simply as “the Teaching.” The followers of Agni Yoga believe that the Teaching was given to the Roerich family by their spiritual guru of Helena Blavatsky, a founder of the Theosophical Society.
Even if you know nothing about this artistic family and the Teaching, you might be fascinated by the wonderful collection of the copies of Roerich’s paintings and numerous artifacts from his eventful and fruitful life, during which he created more than seven thousand paintings, unique and magnificently beautiful. The Great Russian Family, as the Roerichs are frequently referred to, was a union of outstanding people united by the great idea to serve Mankind and to promote peace all over the World.
The Museum of Nikolas Roerich in Novosibirsk was built by the Siberian Roerich Society on the crowd funding basis. The idea of the museum was initiated by Natalia Spirina, one of the Agni Yoga followers, who was 86 on the day when construction started.
The interest towards the museum was so intense that volunteers arrived from lots of different cities and countries to participate in construction, and exhibitions and slide shows were open for visitors in its not yet finished rooms. The official opening ceremony took place on the 7th of October 2007, while unofficially the museum has functioned since the 4th of May 2001, the day when Mrs.Spirina, the founder, turned 90.
Spirituality, but not a religion
The Roerichs’ teaching is all about spirituality, peace-making, everlasting inner values, femininity and the leading role of women in the future society. Nikolas Roerich’s paintings often depict famous Christian, Muslim and Buddhist saints and teachers; however, the Roerichs’ teaching does not belong to any of these religions. It is universal in nature, and so are his paintings. In them, characters of many famous Russian and Slavic fairy tales and legends look very oriental or Tartar. The Roerichs believed that the future of the civilization is in the Russian East, Siberia, and Altai, where, as they and many followers have believed, the entrance to the mysterious Shambala is hidden.
Roerichs tours: Altai, Himalayas, India
The Roerichs undertook several tours to the Himalayas and India, which always fascinated them. One of the stopovers was Novosibirsk, Novonikolayevsk at that time; that’s why the museum was opened in the Siberian capital. Another stopover for the period of about 10 days was a small village Verkh-Uymon in Altai Mountains, where a subsidiary of the museum is now located. Altai attracted Nikolas Roerich as a place where the so-called Old Believers found refuge after the reformation of the Orthodox Church in the 17th century and as a place equally distant from the four oceans. Nikolas Roerich saw mysticism in this fact. And, of course, the mountains attracted him as a painter, and hundreds of his works are devoted to mountains, Altai and the Himalayas.
Today the museum is a center of spirituality, arts, music, and a place where member of the Siberian Roerich Society get together.
The museum displays only a couple of original Roerich’s paintings, while the majority of those presented are copies. However, you can enjoy over 30 original works in the Arts Museum located just a couple of minutes away.
Opening hours: Mo, We, Fr, Sa, So 11-18, Thu 13-20, Tue closed
About the author
My name is Olga, I’m a professional translator, interpreter and tour guide in Novosibirsk. If you find this article interesting and want to know more about the museum, if you are considering a travel to Siberia and Novosibirsk or are about to do it and looking for someone to show you the best of the Siberian capital and the nearby cities, towns and settlements, feel free to contact me. I offer hand-made traditional and off-the-beaten-track tours of Novosibirsk and around. Learn more in my blog www.AskNovosibirsk.com