Nicholas Roerich Estate Museum in Izvara
Nicholas Roerich
Estate Museum
in Izvara
O.A. Cherkasova «Museum as the center of ecological education»

The base of cultural and educational work with children including ecological education was the principle of naturalness which lies in strategy of the museum, namely, creation of “the living mansion”. According to this approach the museum applied the classical pedagogical tool – joint tackling of the old mansion’s problems and cares whether it is planting of apple trees in the place where a huge mansion garden was located, or taking care of the old park, or archeological study of an old park pavilion dating back to the 18th century, here the children who were helping to conduct excavations found the most precious exhibit of the museum of the 12th century – a silver temple ring with an old symbol of trinity which was made the emblem of N.K. Roerich’s Banner of Peace (the banner of protection of cultural achievements which symbolizes continuity of achievements of the past, present and future as well as trinity of science, art and religion which compose the Culture).

Any old mansion has got its own legends, special places, and the principle of children who live nearby but do not know value of the surrounding encountering these places is still very important. Today, probably, as well as 100 years ago we could call direct touching of things which belong to the past centuries, direct feeing of the old times which N.K. Roerich referred to as historical feeling, co-feeling. Russian mansions and museums possess the unique capacities. Therefore, they could help adults rather than children. We frequently became witnesses how children who had found something special in the museum or park took their parents, guests and friends from other schools to show them their findings.

A huge experience of ecological education has been accumulated during 15 years of work of the museum.

Beginning from the first classes for children in the museum in 1990 which programme includes learning of N.K. Roerich’s creative life, folk fairy tales and legends, natural and historical monuments in Izvara, exhibitions of children’s art up to comprehensive school expeditions to study natural and historical monuments in Izvara in 2003-2005 and development of programmes of ecological monitoring in the museum by public and scientific expedition with participation of schoolchildren of Volosovo district under the leadership of the best St. Petersburg scientists and the project of creation of International cultural and ecological camp on the base of Studying house of the Agricultural colony which is a part of the museum.

One should say that the process of mutual children-adult education and joint search of optimum forms which was participated not only by the museum staff but also teachers of village schools form Izvara, Kalitino, Seltso and Volosovo as well as multiple friends of the museum, scientists, artists, poets, cultural figures, representatives of N.K. Roerich’s societies and amauteurs of N.K. Roerich’s creative life from different Russian and foreign cities and towns.

The old mansion Izvara becomes hospitable house for everyone embellished by the fruits of spring and summer ecological programmes: trees planted by our guests, flowers, dearly lined paths of local stones, the museum funds preserve wonderful landscapes. Many volunteers have become genuine friends of the museum and are helping it nowadays. Many participants of summer camps have become the museum staff. Summer works on taking care of the park, mansion garden, springs carried out by volunteers from St. Petersburg, various Russian and foreign cities continue today.

Let’s give some examples of different works with children.

For the smallest the easiest form of educations is fairy tale. Thus, “In the house of fairy tale” based on different topical fairy tales and legends became the first programme for the youngest schoolchildren. In the easiest form children learned about both heroes of fairy tales including animals, birds, living rivers and streams and myths of different nations about trees, stones, water, fire – all the living things forming nature. Slides of N.K.Roerich’s pictures show wonderful nature, the pictures of the museum “Ferns”, “Evening of Kiev’s legendary heroes” represented vivid illustration. Classes also included staging and walks in different corners of the mansion.

The programme finished with a big staged performance outdoors in the of mansion park “Izvara fairy tales”. Children-participants of the programme became heroes of N.K. Roerich’s pictures and fairy tales, they showed excursionist children their historical plots, legends of different nations about nature and human being in staged and play form. For instance, the “Viking’s daughter” encountered during a trip over the mansion told them about the Vikings, “Devassari Abuntu” – a hero of N.K. Roerich’s fairy tale, who left people for nature and understood bird’s and animal’s language stayed in front of children in the Indian national costume, the encounter was accompanied with Indian music, an old man near the lake spoke about legends connected with springs, one could join Snegurochka friends who performed round dance in the glade. During the children’s trip around the living fairy tales of the mansion an old horse-driven carriage approached the entrance of the museum, an old man in suit and bowler left it and communicated with children, asked them to show him the museum, they entered the Old house in order to see the exhibition of children’s paintings based on topics of fairy tales about nature and many other surprising events.

Museum Address: 188414, Izvara Village, Volosovo District, Leningrad Region, Russia.
Phones: +7-813-73-73-273 (group tours); Phone/Fax +7-813-73-73-298 (general)
Museum Director: Cherkasova Olga Anatolievna E-mail: