The State Hermitage is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the largest and oldest museums of the World, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has been opened to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display, comprise nearly 3 million items, including the largest collection of paintings in the world.
The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors. Apart from them, the Menshikov Palace, Museum of Porcelain, Storage Facility at Staraya Derevnya and the eastern wing of the General Staff Building are also part of the museum. The museum has several exhibition centers abroad. The Hermitage is a federal state property. Since 1990, the director of the museum has been Mikhail Piotrovsky.
Out of six buildings of the main museum complex, four, named the Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage and New Hermitage, are partially opened to the public. The other two are Hermitage Theatre and the Reserve House. The entrance ticket for foreign tourists costs four times as much as the fee paid by Russian citizens. However, the entrance is free of charge the first Thursday of every month for all visitors and daily for students and children. The museum is closed on Mondays. Entrance is in the Winter Palace from Palace Embankment or the Courtyard.
Originally, the only building housing the collection was the Small Hermitage. Today, the Hermitage Museum encompasses many buildings on the Palace Embankment and its neighbourhoods. Apart from the Small Hermitage, the museum now also includes the Old Hermitage (also called Large Hermitage), the New Hermitage, the Hermitage Theatre, and the Winter Palace, the former main residence of the Russian tsars. In recent years, the Hermitage has expanded to the General Staff Building on the Palace Square in front of the Winter Palace, and the Menshikov Palace.
The Western European Art collection includes European paintings, sculpture, and applied art from the 13th to the 20th century. It is displayed, in about 120 rooms, on the first and second floor of the four main buildings. Drawings and prints are displayed in temporary exhibitions.
- Egyptian antiquities
- Classical antiquities
- Prehistoric art
- Jewellery and decorative art
- Italian Renaissance
- Italian and Spanish fine art
- Knight's Hall
- Dutch Golden Age and Flemish Baroque
- German, British, Swiss and French fine art
- Russian art
- Neoclassical, Impressionist, and post-Impressionist art
The Hermitage Volunteer Service offers all those interested a unique opportunity to involve themselves in running this world-renowned museum. The program not only aids the Hermitage with its external and internal activities but also serves as an informal link between the museum staff and the public, bringing the specific knowledge of the museum’s experts to the community. Volunteers may also develop projects reflecting their own personal goals and interests: communicate a feeling of responsibility to the youth so as to help them understand the value of tradition and the necessity of its preservation.