Nestled right next to Riverside Park on West 107th is a tiny, lesser-known museum dedicated to a talented and prolific Russian artist, Nicholas Roerich. So prolific was Roerich that technically he was also an archeologist, costume & set designer, writer, philosopher and public figure…did you get all that?
The Nicholas Roerich Museum is like a mini-Frick Collection but with a few exceptions–the museum is free, and all the artwork and artifacts were painted and discovered by Nicholas Roerich himself. Housed in this three-story Upper West Side town house are over 200 works of art ranging from paintings of the Himalayas to scenes from historical references to sketches from his early days designing sets for Russian ballets like The Rite of Spring composed by Igor Stravinsky.
But before you pop by for a quick look, here’s a little more about the fascinating life of Roerich, to give you a greater appreciation for who he was. He was born into a Russian upper-middle class family, and was extremely ambitious He pursued archeology, built his own arboretum and knew he wanted to be an artist all before the age of sixteen.
He earned three nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize for his dedication to preserving art, artifacts and architecture during times of war, leading to his creation of the Roerich Pact, an inter-American treaty that gave legal recognition to the defense of cultural objects over military defense (signed into law by the United States and most members of the Pan-American Union). He was also influential in Europe, introducing the continent to Russian art, music and dance.