The State Hermitage Museum

The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg is Russia's premier art museum. It began life as the private art collection of the imperial family and was nationalised and greatly expanded after the Revolution. The Museum is housed in the buildings of the former imperial palace in the centre of St Petersburg. They comprise the Baroque Winter Palace built by Bartolemeo Rastrelli for the Empress Elizabeth, the Neoclassical Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage and Hermitage Theatre built by Vallin de la Mothe, Yuri Velten and Giacomo Quarenghi respectively for Catherine the Great and the Historicist New Hermitage built by Leo von Klenze for Nicholas I. The latter was built as a museum where the cream of the imperial collection could be shown to the public. It opened its doors in 1852 and was known as the Imperial Hermitage Museum up to 1917.

The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg is Russia's premier art museum. It began life as the private art collection of the imperial family and was nationalised and greatly expanded after the Revolution. The Museum is housed in the buildings of the former imperial palace in the centre of St Petersburg. They comprise the Baroque Winter Palace built by Bartolemeo Rastrelli for the Empress Elizabeth, the Neoclassical Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage and Hermitage Theatre built by Vallin de la Mothe, Yuri Velten and Giacomo Quarenghi respectively for Catherine the Great and the Historicist New Hermitage built by Leo von Klenze for Nicholas I. The latter was built as a museum where the cream of the imperial collection could be shown to the public. It opened its doors in 1852 and was known as the Imperial Hermitage Museum up to 1917.

 

 

The Museum owns one of the world's greatest collections of Old Master paintings, important Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, Classical antiquities, European and Russian applied arts, Oriental art and items excavated by archaeologists throughout the former Soviet Union. Since 1981 the Museum has also had charge of the Menshikov Palace on Vassilevski Island where the curators have mounted an exhibition devoted to Russian life in the first third of the 18th century.

 

A new storage facility at Staraya Derevnya, on the outskirts of the city, was opened in 2003. The Porcelain Museum in the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory is another branch of the Hermitage, as are the Museums of Heraldry and of Awards and Decorations in the Constantine Palace. The Hermitage was also allocated the East wing of the General Staff Building on Palace Square in the 1980s and intends to create a new museum of 19th and 20th century art there.

 

Today the Museum's collection runs to some three million items, compared to one million in 1917. The State Hermitage Museum has ten curatorial departments including a large, and very active, education department which runs courses for school children, as well as tours and lectures for adults. The director of the museum, Prof Mikhail B. Piotrovsky, has seven deputies, each in charge of a different sector of the Museum's activities. The staff of the Museum totals some 1,500, including 150 specialist curators and 120 guides.