The Hermitage, located in St Petersburg, Russia, is a world-class museum complex, one of the most famous museums of fine art and cultural history.
The Hermitage houses more than three million cultural artefacts from various periods and countries: from antiquity to the present day, from the ancient world and the Middle East to Western Europe and Russia. These include paintings and graphic works, sculptures, coins and medals, and archaeological material. This breadth of time and geography makes the Hermitage not only one of the largest museums in the world, but also an encyclopaedic museum capable of telling the story of fa multitude of cultures and their interrelationships.
The Hermitage’s main activities include research and restoration, the organisation of exhibitions and conferences, the publication of books and catalogues, archaeological excavations, and education and outreach projects.
The Hermitage’s collection is displayed in more than 500 rooms covering an area of around 100,000 square metres. Millions of visitors come every year to admire the magnificent interiors of the Winter Palace, masterpieces by Raphael, Giorgione, Titian, Rubens, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Velázquez, the Impressionists and other great masters.
Among the masterpieces housed in the Hermitage are:
• Venus Tauride, a marble statue purchased by Peter the Great in 1719 and became one of the first ancient sculptures to be brought to Russia;
• Madonna Litta, one of the early works of Leonardo da Vinci — a renowned painter, sculptor, architect, and inventor;
• The Crouching Boy by Michelangelo — the only sculpture by the great master in Russian museums.
The museum’s permanent exhibition also includes artefacts from the ancient civilizations. These include objects found during archaeological excavations at the Pazyryk tomb site in Altai (4th-2nd century BC) and unique murals from the city of Panjakent (6th-8th century AD) in present-day Tajikistan.
Catherine the Great is considered the founder of the Hermitage. In 1764, she bought a collection of paintings from the Prussian merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowski, laying the foundation for the museum’s future collection. The Empress kept the paintings in her chambers in the Small Hermitage. This building is now part of the Main Museum Complex, which also includes the Winter Palace, the Old and New Hermitages, and the Hermitage Theatre.
Today, the Hermitage collections are housed in the buildings of the Main Museum Complex, in the Eastern Wing of the General Staff (where art of the 19th and 21st centuries is exhibited), in the Menshikov Palace (where you can get acquainted with the interiors of the time of Peter the Great), and in the Winter Palace of Peter the Great (where there is a memorial exposition devoted to Peter the Great and his era).
The Hermitage also houses the Imperial Porcelain Museum, which is almost 250 years old. Magnificent imperial porcelain sets, reflecting the history of the Russian Empire itself, occupy a special place among the porcelain exhibits on display here.
The Hermitage’s restoration and conservation centre in Staraya Derevnya, outside the historic centre of St Petersburg, is also open to visitors. The tour includes the Costume Gallery, the Carriage Barn with examples of imperial ceremonial carriages, and open exhibitions of furniture, trellises, paintings and antique sculptures.
At the same time, new premises for the Hermitage are being built in the north-east of St Petersburg, including a glass cube designed by Rem Koolhaas. It will house an open art library and the Centre for the Study of Costume and Fashion.
The Hermitage also looks after the Exchange Building on the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island, which is currently being restored and will later be opened as the Museum of Heraldry.
The State Hermitage Museum is currently working on the Greater Hermitage development programme, which aims to make its unique collection accessible to a wider audience. To this end, the museum is building new exhibition venues and opening its representative offices in Russia and abroad. In addition, the museum regularly organises the Hermitage Days. In 2023, they have been organised across 13 Russian cities. Their programme is always unique. In addition to exhibitions, it includes lectures and educational activities, film screenings and workshops, networking with experts and experience sharing sessions.