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Entries / Hermitage


Categories / Science. Education/Museums

HERMITAGE, State Museum (32-38 Dvortsovaya Embankment) is one of the biggest museums in the world, exhibiting art as well as cultural and historical objects. It consists of 5 inter-connected buildings: the Winter Palace, the Small Hermitage, the New Hermitage, the Old Hermitage, and the Hermitage Theatre (see Buildings of the Hermitage). The Hermitage is considered to be founded in 1764, when Empress Catherine II purchased the merchant I. E. Gotskovsky's art collection. The collection included 225 canvases, predominantly by Dutch and Flemish masters. Initially, the museum was simply the empress' personal collection. It was housed in the Winter Palace and called the Hermitage, which comes from the French word ermitage, a place of solitude. Then the picture-gallery also received the name Hermitage. The Hermitage was called the Imperial Museum in 1778, and was opened only for palace visitors. By the end of the 18th century, there were over 3,000 pictures and over 100,000 drawings in the Hermitage Collection. Important acquisitions included the collections of H. Brule (1769), F. Tronchain (1769), A. L. Crosa (1770), the Walpoles (1771), and the libraries of Voltaire, D. Diderot, M. Grimm, and Prince D. A. Golitsyn. In 1773, E. Minich compiled the Hermitage Collection's manuscript catalogue. The first printed catalogue was published in French in 1774. Raphael's Loggias were erected in 1792. The Hermitage continued to purchase exhibits and collections throughout the 19th century: the collection of Malmaison Palace in Paris, the Barbarigo Palace in Venice, and those of P. P. Semenov-Tyan-Shansky and K. F. Schroll. An exhibition of Russian artists was opened in 1825, and in 1852 the Hermitage was opened for visitors. The Hermitage Collection grew after October 1917 due to the nationalisation of private collections. A number of masterpieces were sold abroad by the Soviet government in the 1920-30s. Among those who worked at the Hermitage in the 19th - 20th centuries were artists A. G. Varnek, N. I. Utkin, F. I. Iordan, A. N. Benois, G. S. Vereysky; and professionals G. K. Keller, E. K. Lipgart, D. A. Schmidt, V. F. Levinson-Lessing and M. I. Artamonov. A considerable part of the collection was evacuated to Sverdlovsk at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War 1941-45, and returned to Leningrad in 1945. In 2003, the Hermitage was broken down into eight departments, among them the Department of the West, the Department of Numismatics, the Department of Ancient Art, the Oriental Department, the Department of the History of Russian Culture. There are also archives, a professional library, and a chemical research and scientific-technical experiment laboratory. The Hermitage Collection contains works by great masters from all over the world. The Menshikov Palace became a branch of the Hermitage in 1981. A section of the Main Staff building was given to the Hermitage in 1989 (6-10 Palace Square). The Hermitage's total exhibition space takes up over 350 halls. The museum's collection contains 2,800,000 objects, and only five percent of the collection is on display. The Hermitage purchases works of art, holds professional conferences, organises temporary and permanent exhibitions, and exchanges exhibitions with various museums from all over the world. The Hermitage Museum puts out professional publications, including the periodicals Works…, Reports…, and various monographs, catalogues, albums, and guide-books. The Hermitage's research departments organise archaeological expeditions (in 1990-2000s, to the Kapovaya Cave in Bashkiria, the Southern Tamansky Complex, Bukhara, Nimfeya, excavations in Central Russia, all around the St. Petersburg region). The Hermitage's Computer Gallery, a computer guidebook about the museum halls, was opened in 1999. In the 1960-70s, a lecture-hall was located in the Hermitage Theatre building. Up to 30,000 guided tours were held annually at the beginning of the 2000s. The number of visitors reduced from 3.3 million in the 1980s to 800 thousand in the 2000s. The Hermitage has been publishing the journal Ermitazh since 2003 (editor-in-chief, M. B. Piotrovsky); a radio station called Radio Hermitage also operates at the museum, as well as a film studio Ermitazhny Most. Among the museum's directors over its history were Prince N. B. Yusupov (1796-1802), S. A. Gedeonov (1863-78), Prince А. А. Vasilchikov (1879-88), I. A. Vsevolozhsky (1899-1909), V. B. Legrand (1831-34), I. A. Orbeli (1934-51), M. I. Artamonov (1951-64), and B. B. Piotrovsky (1964-90). M. B. Piotrovsky has been a director of the Hermitage since 1990.

References: Шапиро Ю. Г. Эрмитаж: Путеводитель по выставкам и залам. Л., 1989; Эрмитаж: История и современность. М., 1990.

Y. N. Kruzhnov.

Artamonov Mikhail Illarionovich
Benois Alexander Nikolaevich
Brule Heinrich von
Catherine II, Empress
Crosa Pierre, Baron
Diderot Denis
Gedeonov Stepan Alexandrovich
Golitsin Dmitry Alexeevich, Duke
Gotskovsky Johann Ernest
Grimm Friedrich Melchior, Baron
Iordan Fedor Ivanovich
Keller G.K.
Legrand V.B.
Levinson-Lessing Vladimir Franzevich
Lipgart Ernst Karlovich
Minich Johann-Ernest
Orbeli Iosif Abgarovich
Piotrovsky Andrian Ivanovich
Schmidt D.A.
Schroll K.F.
Semenov-Tyan-Shansky (real name Semenov) Peter Petrovich
Tronchain Francois
Utkin Nikolay Ivanovich
Varnek Alexander Grigorievich
Vasilchikov Alexander Alexeevich, Duke
Vereysky Georgy Semenovich
Voltaire Francois Marie Arouet
Vsevolozhsky Ivan Alexandrovich
Walpole Horace
Yusupov Nikolay Borisovich, Duke

Dvortsovaya Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 36
Dvortsovaya Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 38
Dvortsovaya Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 34
Dvortsovaya Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 32
Dvortsovaya Square/Saint Petersburg, city, house 6
Dvortsovaya Square/Saint Petersburg, city, house 8
Dvortsovaya Square/Saint Petersburg, city, house 10

Шапиро Ю. Г. Эрмитаж: Путеводитель по выст. и залам. Л., 1989
Эрмитаж: История и современность. М., 1990

The subject Index
Hermitage Theatre
Winter Palace
Menshikov Palace
Main Headquarters