Nicholas Roerich—artist, philosopher, archaeologist and author—led a life rich in achievement. Born in St. Petersburg in 1874, he was a highly disciplined man who believed that cultural development was fundamental to world peace. He created over 6,000 paintings, wrote numerous books and undertook extensive archaeological expeditions in Russia and Central Asia. One of his greatest achievements, the Roerich Pact, sought to protect, in war and peace, world cultural treasures. This project led to his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1929.

The museum houses 200 paintings plus memorabilia from all periods of his life, including his set designs for operas by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, his collaborations with Igor Stravinsky and the paintings he made from expeditions to India and Tibet. Lectures on art, music and science are offered, as are recitals by concert artists and chamber music ensembles.

The museum also conducts a highly-regarded poetry series, supports an annual Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize, and supports in the publication of books of poetry.