The Hermitage is considered to be one of the biggest museums in the world and the largest art museum in Russia. The collection is more than 2.7 million items (15.000 paintings, 12.000 pieces of sculptures, 600.000 prints and drawings, over 600.000 archeological exhibits, 1.000.000 coins and medals, and 224.000 items of applied art). About four hundred rooms are open to the public.
The history of the museum goes back to the time of Catherine the Great. In 1764 the first collection of two hundred twenty five paintings was bought from the Berlin merchant Gotzkowsky. In order to house the collection a special building was put up next to the Winter Palace. It became known as the Hermitage (from the French ermite). It was a private museum of the Empress. In this meaning it was a hermit’s dwelling, a place to have rest from her court duties. With the course of time the Hermitage collection grew in number. It was enlarged and other buildings were added.
At present the Hermitage museum occupies five buildings joined together with roofed passageways. They are: Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage, New Hermitage, and Hermitage Theater. The collection of Hermitage is divided into six departments. Interiors of the Hermitage, especially Winter Palace is a unique and fabulous. The following collections deserve special attention: Italian art in the Hermitage, Dutch Art: Rembrandt van Rijan, French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists in the Hermitage.
Author: Ekaterina Chistyakova