34 Dvortsovaya Naberezhnaya 190000 St. Petersburg
Open: 10.30am - 6pm
Closed: Mondays Tel. 219-4551,311-3465
Nearest metro station: Nevsky Prospekt
The Hermitage, the world's greatest art museum and the largest art repository in Russia, inside you will find a total of approximately three million exhibits.
It is thought to have been founded in 1764, when Catherine II acquired 225 paintings, in Berlin, and arrived in St. Petersburg. Besides paintings, the museum also acquired collections of prints and drawings, classical antiquities, objects of Western European applied art, weapons, coins, medals and books (Voltaire's library).
In the 19th century, the Hermitage began to receive archaeological artefacts which, among other things, formed the nucleus of the celebrated collection of Scythian gold. In 1863, the Hermitage became a public museum and its art collection was growing rapidly until the communist revolution in 1917. After the 1917 revolution, numerous works of art found their way into the museum, following the nationalization of private collections. Especially important additions came from the Petrograd mansions of the nobility: the Yusupovs, Sheremetev, Shuvalovs and Stroganovs.
In fact at the moment the Hermitage is an ensemble of 5 buildings: the Winter Palace, the Small Hermitage, the Old Hermitage, the New Hermitage and the Hermitage Theatre. There is also an exhibition at the Menshikov Palace, a branch of the Hermitage. It's interesting that the anyone who dreams of seeing all the collection which is on show at the moment will have to walk over 22km on foot, and spend about 8 hours daily during 15 years looking at each item not longer than for 1 minute.
The collection of the Hermitage is truly amazing and features anything you can think of: from the art of Ancient Egypt to modern European art. The Department of the History of Russian Culture contains a great variety of materials, dating right back to Ancient Rus'. Particularly noteworthy are exhibits from the Petrine era and the mid-to-late 18th century. An exhibition entitled "The Artistic Decoration of the 19th century Russian Interior" is permanently on view.
The interiors of the Hermitage buildings and particularly of the Winter Palace are the masterpieces themselves. Rastrelli, V.Stasov, C.Rossi, A.Montferrand, A.Briullov took part in creating the designs for the halls of the Palace. Probably the highlights of the interiors are the Jordan Staircase, the Field-Marshal's Hall, the Small Throne Room, the Gallery of 1812 (a monument to Russia's military victories), the Hall of St. George (The Great Throne Room), the Malachite Hall and the Hermitage Theatre.
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