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The Hermitage Museum

The New Hermitage Building

The Hermitage (Государственный Эрмитаж) is one of the oldest and largest museums in the world. The origins of the Hermitage can be traced back to the private art collection of Tsar Peter the Great, who purchased a large variety of works during his travels to Europe. Founded in 1764 by Tsarina Catherine the Great, it has been open to the public since 1852.

In 1917, after the October Revolution the museum closed. Bolsheviks confiscated numerous works from many private collections, including works of Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh and Picasso. It reopened in 1919 and slowly more and more galleries were open to public viewing. It was forced to close again from 1925-1930, during which time the collections passed to the “Museum fund”. Over the next few years, many of these paintings were sold to the public, however, thankfully the Great Depression put a stop to these purchase while no one had disposable income for Russian art anymore. From September 8, 1941 until January 27,

Hermitage (Bad)

1944, the city of Leningrad was under siege by the German army and the Hermitage was out of commission. Because of this 900 day long siege, the Hermitage workers were forced to move most of the collections out of the Hermitage The Small Hermitage/>in order to protect them during the war. Some of the paintings were sent by train to Sverdlovsk and some were kept in the basement of the Hermitage itself, which was transformed into a bomb shelter for their protection. The Hermitage was reopened on November 8, 1944, when the collections protected in the basement were put once again on display. By November 4, 1945, sixty-eight rooms were opened to the public and were fully restored to their original beauty and were also completely refilled with their former collections.

The State Hermitage MuseumIt has a collection of nearly three million items, however, only a small portion of these are on permanent display. That being said, the Hermitage art collection is the largest collection of paintings in the world. The collections are kept in a complex of six historic buildings which are located along the Palace Embankment. Out of these six buildings, four of which (namely the Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage and the new Hermitage) are “partially” open to the public.Inside the Hermitage

The ticket price for entrance to the museum is notably steeper for foreign tourists when compared with cost for the Russian citizenry. That being said, the entrance is free on the first Thursday of every month for all visitors and daily for students and children. The museum is closed on Mondays.

The museum includes a large contingent of Italian Renaissance and French Impressionist paintings, in addition to possessing outstanding collections of works by Rembrandt, Picasso and Matisse. There is also an excellent Greek and Roman antiquities collection, as well as large exhibits on Siberian and Central Asian art.

The Large HermitageIt is said that if one were to spend one minute looking at each individual exhibit, it would take roughly 11 years to view every single display.


Question for discussion:

Does the Hermitage have more cultural significance for European cultural tradition than the Louvre (which contains a mere 35,000 art objects)? Why?

By Pete Giannino and Kristine Mosuela

Works cited

By Ann Marie Stock

Professor of Hispanic Studies & Film and Media Studies, College of William and Mary.
Specialist on Latin American culture with emphasis on Cuban cinema. Author of several books and numerous essays including World Film Locations: Havana (2014) and On Location in Cuba: Street Filmmaking during Times of Transition (2009).

One reply on “The Hermitage Museum”

That movie is incredible! Although the Hermitage is not the oldest museum (or set of museums), it certainly is one of the most impressive and intimidating. What I find most impressive is that the Hermitage is host to such a vast array of artistic styles and mediums. The architectual style of the buildings, while varying from structure to structure, is equally as impressive, as it is consistent with the classical baroque enlightenment period.

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