World Famous State Hermitage Museum
The State Hermitage is an art and cultural museum complex located in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Catherine the Great (Russia’s leader) was its founder in 1764, and it opened to the public in 1852. When it first opened the collection was contained within only one building called the Small Hermitage, but it grew to include the Old Hermitage, the New Hermitage, the Winter Palace, the Hermitage Theatre, General Staff Building and Menshikov Palace. There are also several Hermitage exhibition buildings located around the world. Today the State Hermitage houses more than 3 million items, including the world’s largest painting collection.
Facts you never knew:
- The word ‘Hermitage’ is derived from the word ‘hermit’ in Old French, from the Latin word ‘eremita’ meaning ‘people who live alone’.
- The Winter Palace was once the official residence of the Romanov Tsars.
- Catherine the Great bought paintings in 1764 from a merchant in Berlin who had assembled the collection Prussia’s Frederick II. When Frederick II refused to follow through Catherine the Great jumped in and purchased the collection for the Russian crown.
- The original collection purchased by Catherine the Great included paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Raphael, Jordaens, van Dyck, Veronese, and several other famous artists.
- In 1766 the Southern Pavilion (of the soon to be built Small Hermitage building) was completed, and for the next several years additional extensions were built, connected by galleries to house Catherine’s collection. This collection of buildings became the Small Hermitage.
- Catherine the Great’s original collection remains in the Hermitage. She continued to collect throughout the rest of her life. She had 4,000 paintings, 10,000 engraved items, 10,000 drawings, 38,000 books, a natural history collection and 16,000 coins.
- The collection continued to grow, and the requirements for space continued to grow as well.
- Until 1917 the State Hermitage housed only Imperial collections.
- Today the State Hermitage houses extensive collections including Egyptian antiquities, Classical antiquities, prehistoric art, decorative art and jewelry, and several fine art collections.
- Paintings included in the State Hermitage collection include Italian Renaissance, Italian and Spanish fine art, Dutch Golden Age and Flemish Baroque, German, Swiss, British, French fine art, Russian art, Neoclassical, Impressionist, and post-Impressionist paintings.
- In 1945 the Red Army in Germany looted paintings and hid them in the State Hermitage, but this was not officially announced until 1994. Since then, these collections that had been state German owned, have been on display in the Winter Palace. They were first exhibited as ‘Hidden Treasures Revealed’.
- In July 2006 the Hermitage announced it had been robbed of items valued at more than half a million dollars. Later that same year many items had been recovered.
- The State Hermitage has opened several exhibition museums around the world including the Heritage Amsterdam (Amsterdam), the Hermitage-Kazan Exhibition Center (Kazan), Ermitage Italia (Ferrara), Heritage-Vyborg Center (Vyborg), Hermitage Barcelona (Barcelona), Hermitage Exhibition Center (Vladivostok), Hermitage-Siberia (Omsk), and Guggenheim Hermitage Museum (Vilnius).
- One of the attractions at the State Hermitage are the many cats living on the grounds
- The collectionn at the State Hermitage includes works by the most famous painters in history including Vincent van Gogh, Matisse, Raphael, Picasso, Goya, and Rembrandt
- The world famous State Hermitage Museum began as the personal art collection of Catherine the Great.