The State Hermitage Report 2007
In the autumn of 2008 the State Hermitage published its Report for the year 2007 (“Slavia” publishing house). The report carries an introductory article entitled “The Year of Porcelain Vases” written by museum director Mikhail Piotrovsky.
Porcelain at the Hermitage is one of the main themes of collecting, display and research. The exclusive acquisitions of this year include porcelain articles that are the symbol of our decorative collections. They help us to see how the Hermitage has been consistently expanding its collections for many years, selecting the right things bearing certain significance. Two unique vases produced at the Imperial Porcelain Factory during the reign of Catherine the Great have become quite a hit at the antiquities market due to their rareness and refined beauty. Now they are on display at the Hermitage. The world antiquities market has also been recently stirred by a price sensation involving large vases produced at the Imperial Porcelain Factory during the reign of Nicholas II. The Hermitage received two such vases with military imagery as part of an inheritance. They are in a way supplemented by a huge set of gilded glass flasks produced in Russia and Bohemia at the end of the 18th century and certificates signed by Catherine the Great and awarded to members of the famous Orlov family. The last among the wonderful acquisitions of this year is a contemporary artistic acinac sward presented to the museum by the head of the Federation Council of Russia.
Acquisitions entail thorough research, the latter being the main activity of the museum. A major project of compiling scientific catalogues of all the museum collections has just been initiated. The austere green volumes have already become famous. All the sixteen archaeological expeditions of the Hermitage are still fully functional. One of the most important means of stimulating the scientific activity is still the opportunity to receive grants from Vladimir Potanin Charitable Foundation. The fact that St. Petersburg hosted the International Congress of Assyriology contributed to the Hermitage influence in the study of the Ancient East, and the scientific conference on daguerreotypes marked a new step in the new venture undertaken at the museum, viz. scientific research of the photographic collections it contains.
Together, science, exhibitions and expositions fulfil a very important
task of an encyclopaedic museum, i.e. the dialogue of cultures. An immense
exhibition “Alexander the Great. The Road to the East” is a vivid example
of such activity. Enthralling in itself, the exhibition demonstrated the riches
of the Hermitage collections and the results of the
The project “Hermitage 20/21” aimed at elaborating new ways of displaying modern art at the Hermitage, started with a unique combination of American, British, and Russian taste, i.e. with an exhibition “America Today”, a replica of a famous exhibition of the Royal Academy in London. At the same time those who appreciate classical art could enjoy an exhibition of British watercolours. Classical traditions in modern art were represented by an exhibition “A Dance of Quill and Ink” that showed how contemporary artists transform traditional art of the Arabic calligraphy.
The Hermitage exhibitions form one entity with its permanent collections. We are proud that this year we managed to present two collections in a completely new fashion and proper format for the first time. “Ancient Fabrics from Moshchevaya Gorge” and “The Culture of the Golden Horde” are the first exhibitions of their kind.
As usual, the Hermitage “satellites” expanded their exhibiting capabilities and attracted more visitors. Wonderful exhibitions “Persia” and “Art Nouveau” added some zest to the artistic life of Amsterdam. A touching story of human relationships and collecting was told at an exhibition “Empress Josephine” in London. Kazan hosted a grandiose encyclopaedic exhibition “Half a Kingdom for a Horse”. Finally, two presidents opened a spectacular display of the exhibition “From Peter I to Nicholas II” in Lisbon.
Restoration plays its part in science and exhibiting. Working together, scientists and restorers managed to revive the author’s name and initial beauty of the painting in Lorenzo Lotto’s “Madonna”. We started restoration of Cima de Conegliano’s “Annunciation”, one of the most famous paintings at the Hermitage favoured by the majority of the public. The copper statue on the roof of the Winter Palace is being continuously restored and the issue of changing its colour is one of the topics actively debated at the museum. We completed restoration of the new antique halls, halls of the Ministry of Finance, parquet floor of the Rafael School hall and many others.
The project of restoring the Eastern Wing of the general Staff building is nearing the end of its approval stage. A new complex of our unique Repository is already under way. Amsterdam’s Amstelhof is also experiencing restoration - it will host the Hermitage • Amsterdam centre.
This is how the Large Hermitage concept works, uniting in a dynamic manner permanent expositions, new exhibition space, rotation exhibitions, open repositories, exhibitions outside the Hermitage, the Hermitage “satellites”, the Hermitage publishing house, “The Hermitage” magazine, “The Hermitage News” newspaper, “The Hermitage” radio, the Hermitage TV broadcasts, “The Hermitage on CD’s” project and the virtual Hermitage on the Internet.