photo by: Rustam Zagidullin
One of the oldest and most prestigious museums in the world, the State Hermitage Museum was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great as her personal art collection and has been open to the public since 1852. The Museum is renowned for its collection that includes more than three million works of art and artefacts of world culture. Among them are paintings, graphic works, sculptures and works of applied art, archaeological finds, and numismatic material.
Situated in the center of St. Petersburg, the Hermitage consists of a grouping of architecturally significant buildings: the Winter Palace, the former state residence of the Russian emperors; the buildings of the Small, Old (Great) and New Hermitages; the Hermitage Theatre; and the Auxiliary House. The museum complex also includes the Menshikov Palace, the Eastern Wing of the General Staff Building, the Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Centre, and the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory.
In 2014 the Hermitage celebrates 250 years of existence. The newly renovated General Staff Building, the new premises of the State Hermitage Museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art, is fully open in 2014, as the main stage of MANIFESTA 10.
Constructed in 1819–29 by the Italian architect Carlo Rossi, the General Staff Building is one of the most prominent landmarks of St. Petersburg. Its long, bow-shaped façade faces the Winter Palace and its monumental triumphal arch frames Palace Square—St. Petersburg’s main plaza. The arch (Tripartite Arc) was decorated by sculptors Stepan Pimenov and Vasily Demuth-Malinovsky to commemorate the Russian victory over Napoleonic France in the Patriotic War of 1812.
In the nineteenth century, the building was used for administrative purposes, housing Russia’s Chief Military Staff, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During Soviet times, it served as the headquarters for the Soviet Office of Foreign Affairs and the Police Department. The western wing now hosts the headquarters of the Western Military District. The eastern wing was transferred to the Hermitage Museum in 1993. From 2008–13 the building was restored by the Intarsia Group. It opens in 2014 on the occasion of Manifesta 10, as the new home for modern and contemporary at the Hermitage Museum.