If you are looking for a unique, intimate museum experience that is off the beaten path, the Nicholas Roerich Museum is a great spot to check out. This independent museum is dedicated to the artwork of Nicholas Roerich, a painter from Russia whose worldwide travel made him an advocate for world peace, a Buddhist spiritual writer, and of course a painter of incredible landscapes. The museum is located in a brownstone on the Upper West Side, founded by the artist himself.
If you are not familiar with the artist and his work, I recommend starting with the photo hallway on the ground floor. The photos, along with descriptions, will give you context to Roerich’s fascinating life. From there, you may ascend the steps to the 2nd and 3rd floors, where about 150 paintings are displayed. Folk sculptures and antique furniture adorn the rooms as well, giving the impression of souvenirs collected during Roerich’s worldwide travel.
Roerich’s art has a surreal, spiritual quality, using glowing color palettes to depict stark landscapes of the Himalayas, American West, and Europe. My favorite room is on the 3rd floor, where nearly all the paintings are of the Himalayan mountains. I love Roerich’s use of vibrant color, and the sensitivity he brings to the mountains. If you look closely, there are few hard lines; many of the edges are blurred, allowing the painting to move within its own frame.
Every Friday at 7pm, the museum hosts free classical music concerts. Registration on the website is required.