Report of the State Hermitage - 2006
In September 2007, the Report of the State Hermitage for 2006 was published (Slavia Publishing House). The report opens with an article by museum director Mikhail Piotrovsky entitled "The Year of Rembrandt":
Around the globe this year has been the Year of Rembrandt. The State Hermitage Museum has also participated in the celebrations. A special "museum night", numerous readings, musical soirees, a music and arts festival, the 10th anniversary of the Hermitage Friends' Club, and even chocolates were devoted to the artist's birthday.
Rembrandt has been an inherent part of the Hermitage for a long time; and consequently, the State Hermitage's Rembrandt has become part of the Russian culture. In Russia he has become more than an artist but rather a symbol of Russia's awakening and the synthesis of eastern and western philosophical ideas, which was brought to life by the artist. It also incorporates themes of the father and son, which brings together not only Abraham's Sacrifice, Descent from the Cross, The Holy Family, and The Prodigal Son but also Danae who gave birth to Perseus.
We are proud of our Rembrandts. In honour of him as a prominent etcher, we held an exhibition of Rembrandt's etchings as largely represented in the Hermitage, which became unprecedented in their scope and subtlety of analysis. The collection was presented to the State Hermitage Museum as a gift by the great Russian collector D.A. Rovinsky. His memory, too, is a part of our cultural history.
The exhibition or, rather, festivities in honour of another great collector, Pyotr Semenov-Tyan-Shansky were to be another highlight of the year. Semenov-Tyan-Shansky bought the works of Dutch artists for the Hermitage. An unsurpassed connoisseur of arts, Semenov-Tyan-Shansky was also a great geographer, economist, and statesman. His name brings to mind a whole stratum in Russian history - noble families and houses that have served Russia for centuries and continue to serve. Strange as it may seem, Rembrandt either attracts or irritates malicious people. We know that from the Danae case. It is notable that we discovered a betrayal in the midst of us exactly this year - a theft which involved the participation of the Hermitage Museum's staff. It is probably Rembrandt's unconquerable spirit that helped return a significant part of the loss. The response to the Museum's tragedy also made it easier to see our friends and our enemies. We have purposely published a background book on another betrayal this year - the sale of our collections by the government in the 1920s-1930s.
The dogs bark but the caravan goes on. The globally unique halls of Urartu, medieval Armenia and Georgia, were opened after reconstruction. The insights of our art restorers were represented at the exhibition of Oriental filigrees in the 'Hermitage Amsterdam'. Amazing archaeological finds were shown at the exhibition of Mirmeki Treasure. The contemporary art show took shape in the exhibitions of Riopelle, and Italian and Russian kinetic art. The latter, became, somewhat surprisingly, the audience's favourite exhibition of the year. In our supermasterpiece series, we had a chance to admire Degas's The Bellelli Family from the Musee d'Orsay and two Mantegna's paintings from Mantua, of course. Among the events held within The Greater Hermitage Project, three were the most eminent: the exhibition of our Treasure Gallery in the Kremlin, the meeting of the International Advisory Board in our centre in Kazan, and the agreement to establish a Research and Exhibition Centre of the Hermitage in Ferrara. Charity receptions annually held in the Hermitage are taking special form and content and thus becoming a unique cultural event that unites, as a museum must do, all muses in an amazing space.
There are numerous plans. The 'Hermitage 20/21' project has started in
order to find optimal ways of presenting art from the 20th and 21st centuries
at the State Hermitage Museum. The 'Hermitage 2040' project is about to
initiate a master plan for the development of the Hermitage as a special
museum for the 21st century. We are indeed living in interesting times.