The State Hermitage (Russian: Госуда́рственный Эрмита́ж; IPA: [gəsʊˈdarstvʲɪnɨj ɪrmʲɪˈtaʂ], Gosudarstvenny Ermitazh) is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the largest and oldest museums in the World, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has been open to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display, comprise over three 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.
Of six buildings of the main museum complex, five, named the Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage, New Hermitage and Hermitage Theatre, are open to the public. The entrance ticket for foreign tourists costs more than the fee paid by citizens of Russia and Belarus. However, entrance is free of charge the first Thursday of every month for all visitors, and free daily for students and children. The museum is closed on Mondays. The entrance for individual visitors is located in the Winter Palace, accessible from the Courtyard.
The Western European Art collection includes European paintings, sculpture, and applied art from the 13th to the 20th centuries. 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.