Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovsky was born in Yerevan, Armenia, in 1944.
In 1996 Mikhail Piotrovsky graduated with honours from the Oriental Faculty of Leningrad State University, specializing in Arabic Studies, in 1967. He also attended Cairo University from 1965 to 1966. He entered the Leningrad branch of the Institute for Oriental Studies as a research assistant in 1967 and worked there until 1991. In 1991 he was invited to join the Hermitage staff as first deputy director with responsibility for research work. In July 1992 Mikhail Piotrovsky was appointed Director of the State Hermitage by government decree.
Dr. Piotrovski has taken part in archaeological excavations in the Caucasus, Central Asia and Yemen. He is an author of more than 250 works including catalogues of Arabic manuscripts, publications of Medieval monuments and ancient inscriptions, works on Islamic political history and Arabic culture. Among them: series of articles devoted to the Muslim mythology in The Encyclopedia of World Mythology, series of articles about the prophet Muhammad and the monographs: The Legend of the Himyarite King As'ad al-Kamil (1977), Fundamentals of Arab-Islamic Art (1984), Southern Arabia in the Early Middle Ages (1985), Islam: An Encyclopaedia (1991), Tales of the Koran (1991). The Hermitage: Essays on the History of the Collection (a co-author, 1997); Earthy Art - Heavenly Beauty. Art of Islam (an editor, 2000); On Islamic Art (2001), The Hermitage (2003); The Great Collections of the Great Museum. The Hermitage (2003); The Historical Legends of Koran (2005), The Islamic Art. Between China and Europe (2008), The View from the Hermitage (2009), The Two Holy Sites Regained. Futuh al-Haramayn (2011). Dr. Piotrovski is an author and a presenter of a TV series My Hermitage shown on the State Russian TV channel (for the moment it contains more than 225 series).
Dr. Piotrovski is a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Academy of Arts, a member of the President's Council for Art and Culture, a professor of St. Petersburg State University, were he chairs two departments - "Museology" and "Ancient Orient". He is a President of the Union of Museums in Russia, a President of the Worldwide Club of St. Petersburg, a Chairman of the board of the European University in St. Petersburg, a Corresponding Member of the German Archeological Institute, an Editor-in-chief of the magazine The Christian Orient. He is a member of the Group of Consultants for Council of Europe art exhibitions, and other national and international organizations.
He has been awarded the Netherlands Order of Orange-Nassau (1996), the Russian Order of Honor (1997), the French Order of the Legion d'Honneur (1998, 2004), the Swedish Order of the Northern Star (1999), the Order of Merit to Italian Republic (2000, 2004), the Order of Saint Mesrop, Armenian Apostle Church (2000), the Order of Yaroslav the Wise (Ukraine, 2003), the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2004), the Order of Service to the Fatherland (Russia, 2004), the Presidential Prize in the Field of Art and Literature (Russia, 2003), the Order of Honor Al-Fahr (the Council of Muftis of Russia, 2005), the Order of the Finish Lion (2005); the Order of Sun, Japan (2007); the Silver Medal of Amsterdam (2009); Woodrow Wilson Award, USA (2009); the Russian Order of Honor the third grade (2009); the Order of the Crown, Kingdom of Belgium (2011).
In 1997, a minor planet was named "Piotrovski" by the Astronomical Union in joint honor of Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovski and his father Boris Borisovich Piotrovski.
In 2011 Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovski was awarded the title of Honored Citizen of Saint Petersburg.
Mikhail Borisovich is married with two children.