A Press Conference Given by Director of the State Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky on 2 April: The Opening of a Museum of Heraldry and other news
On 2 April 2004 Director of the State Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky held a press conference at the news agency Interfax North-West.
He announced that the State Hermitage is now preparing two large exhibitions of heraldry and the symbols of state to be shown in the museum area of the Konstantinovsky Palace. As he mentioned, the Hermitage already had experience joining other museums of the city in arranging exhibitions in the Konstantinovsky Palace devoted to Konstantin Romanov, to symbols of state and to naval compositions, all within the celebrations surrounding the 300th anniversary of St Petersburg.
"Now we are creating two large exhibitions, which might better be called museums. One is a museum of heraldry and the other a museum of state awards and decorations. They will be part of the Hermitage and will be a permanent platform for displaying things which we would like to show in the Hermitage but do not have the space,” Director Piotrovsky observed.
The heraldry on display in the exhibition will be ancient coins, European coins portraying various historical personalities, and also coats of arms on wall coverings and fabrics, antique vessels and medieval arms One display item worthy of mention is the so-called ‘Konstantin ruble’ issued in 1825 to honor Emperor Konstantin, who in fact did not become the autocrat of Russia.
“We have samples of it, mint proofs and press forms as well as counterfeits – this is quite a detective story and one of the most remarkable historical episodes relating to items kept in the Hermitage. This justifies a visit to the Konstantinovsky Palace all by itself,” Dr Piotrovsky said.
The second exhibition that will open in the Konstantinovsky Palace is a reconstituted show of orders that was once given in the Hermitage. This assembles all the Russian state awards and decorations given out over a period of 300 years, in particular the original order of St Andrew and the same order as it has been recreated in contemporary Russia. In the words of Mikhail Piotrovsky, there is already discussion under way to display here the inauguration chain which the President will receive on the day he officially takes office.
The Hermitage is also involved in arranging the furnishing of the Presidential areas of the Konstantinovsky Palace.
“The interiors left much to be desired; they were hurriedly completed,” explains the Hermitage director. “Last week the President delivered instructions that visitors be allowed into his offices, and now we are busy considering the interior furnishings and choosing which works of art might be exhibited there.”
In the opinion of Mikhail Piotrovsky, the Presidential area should be used to show off works that might be of interest to visiting dignitaries. This could be portraits of the imperial family or such a painting as the “Battle at Kulma”, which relates to one of the most important chapters in Russian history.
Hermitage property is given out to the Presidential area on temporary loan. No museum rarities will be put in the central part of the palace where various types of congresses will be held. They will only be put on display in secure rooms where a museum regime is in force.
“A large part of the Hermitage collection should be shown on rotational basis. It is senseless to put everything on display, since no one will take the time to see it all,” Director Piotrovsky believes. “But half of our collection can be shown in temporary exhibitions or in a branch location, then return to the Hermitage to rest before being sent on to another exhibition.”
Mikhail Piotrovsky thinks that “it is optimal to have 5 centers in Petersburg and several further locations around Russia where there would be different guiding themes. For example, in the Konstantinovsky Palace we can display items having to do with symbols of state and state authority whereas in the porcelain factory the imperial porcelain service will be shown.”
Director Piotrovsky also announced that work is now being completed on the museum’s new storage facilities in Staraya Derevnya. “We have to build two more rooms, but the complex is already operational, and we are showing around both specialists and people who live in the nearby areas,” he said.
With respect to branch museums of the Hermitage around Russia, he explained that within a year the exhibition center in Kazan will open, in time for the 1000th anniversary of the capital of Tatarstan.
”Work is going on in one of the buildings of the Kazan Kremlin,” Dr Piotrovsky declared, while adding that “this will be a department of the Hermitage with large exhibition rooms, an auditorium, areas for children. Indeed there will be everything that makes the Hermitage what it is and it all will be on a high level.”
Among other new Hermitage projects he mentioned an exhibition devoted to fashion which is being prepared jointly with the Museum of Fashion in Paris and the magazine "ELLE".
”We intend to approach the history of fashion in our own, Hermitage manner, and what we are preparing has never been done by anyone else,” he declared.
Discussions over the concept for the exhibition are underway and a number
of different approaches have surfaced. In the director’s words, the Hermitage
has proposed that the exhibition be like a staged theatrical event, while
the French side wants to put on a rather ‘academic’ exhibition.
”In keeping with the approved concept, the exhibition will look like this: various sets of clothing from the Hermitage collection relating to historical personages will be at the center of the exhibition, and around this we will build up a display of dresses drawing on these sources and made by the great fashion designers of Europe after 1917."
As Director Piotrovsky further explained, the exhibition “will present brocade from the Hermitage and brocade items from the collection of the Museum of Fashion in Paris that come from famous designers including John Galliano, Christian Dior, Nina Ricci, and others.”
Mikhail Piotrovsky announced that on 6 April the Hall of Twenty Columns of the New Hermitage will be re-opened to visitors. It has been restored with assistance from the confederation of Italian industrialists, Confindustria.
Based on material prepared by the news agency Interfax North-West.