Day of the March Cat - 2009
On 28 March 2009 in the Hermitage the Day of the March Cat, a special project developed in the State Hermitage and devoted cats, living in the museum traditionally took place. As Director of the State Hermitage Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovsky has noted, “cats became a very important part of Hermitage life and one of our significant Hermitage legends”.
Our cats-friends lead their history since the beginning of XVIII century when Peter I had brought a cat from Holland and let it live in the Winter Palace. Later Empress Elizabeth Petrovna issued a Decree “On Sending Cats to the Court” in which she ordered, “to find in Kazan the best and the greatest cats, capable of mice catch... And if somebody has such emasculated cats, those cats are to be announced for a prompt departure to the provincial office”. Catherine the Great, who founded the Hermitage Museum, declared that cats would be the guardians of the picture galleries.
On 28 March, the public who has come in the museum this day received a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the heroes of the celebration, the Hermitage cats in the Great Courtyard of the Winter Palace. The people could create their own cat by means of paints together with Dmitry Shagin within the frame of the event “My Hermitage Cat”, because a cat that lives in the artist’s home is a Hermitage one. Visitors could take part in an interactive game acquainting with collections of the Hermitage, and thus make a “Travel for the Hermitage cat” in halls of the museum.
Works of students who practice in creative sections of the Hermitage’s Youth Centre Student Club and professional painters were presented under the motto “Better than toms can be only... queens” in an attic of the Winter Palace.
Photographs were devoted to one theme - “The Hermitage. Cats”. Several photographers such as Yuri Molodkovets and Eugenie Sinyaver, Sergey Taranov, Dmitry Lovetsky and Tatyana Braslavskaya worked at the series. One of the significant Hermitage legends has united also professional photographers working in the Hermitage, and the youth, only aspiring to comprehend basis of photographic mastership at lessons of the Creative Photography section at the Hermitage’s Youth Centre.
All of them tried to express their impression of acquaintance to the darlings of the people. They put legends and tell entertaining stories about them. Everybody who will be acquainted with them will be touched by their attitude to the museum that is their home. Each cat has own history, own special legend, and the project is just about it.
Each photographer has noticed something own in their history and has
got a view that gives a special, personal description to the fluffy friend.
Cats are a special part of the museum’s life. Not everybody can get acquainted with it, and who becomes this lucky person, could not keep from telling about it. Everybody does it in his own way by releasing a film, writing a book, an article for a magazine or a newspaper, creating a cycle of photos. The photograph story “The Hermitage. Cats” is just about this love to these assistants of the museum, about careful attitude to this Hermitage legend.
A number of Petersburg artists have given their graphic and painting
works for the project. Cozy, safe life of cat Monya in Konstantin Kuzem’s
house, Sergey Temerev’s yard cats, Petersburg cats’ serenades on quays
of Vladimir Rumyantsev, a little bit mystical image of cat Shushun by Elena
Bazanova, and at last, an invariable wild eye of
A presentation of the book “Pussycat’s House in the Hermitage” (Authors are Nikolay Gol, Maria Khaltunen, “Arca” Publishing house) also took place on the Day of the March Cat.
Before the Day of the March Cat the State Hermitage spent a number of creative competitions for children, pupils of art schools, fine art studios of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region devoted to the darlings of the people. For the competition “A Cat as an Hermitage exhibit. From Primitivism to Cubism” children were offered to create a work corresponding to a certain school or a style trend in fine arts. Summarizing took place on the Day of the March Cat in the Hermitage.
11.00 - opening of the Day of the March Cat (the Great Courtyard of the Winter Palace) Greeting of Director of the Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky.
11.15-11.45 - My Hermitage Cat.
11.45-12.00 - summarizing of school competition “A Cat as an Hermitage exhibit. From Primitivism to Cubism” and rewarding of winners
12.00-14.00 - “A Travel for the Hermitage cat”- a game in halls of the museum (for all visitors)
12.00-15.00 - Acquaintance of all participants of all events and competitions which had been held earlier with an exposition in an attic of the Winter Palace
Petersburg artists’ exhibition “Better than toms can be only...
queens”. Ekaterina Predko’s creative project (section “A Creative
Photograph”), devoted to employees of the Hermitage, who take
care of the Hermitage cats. Photograph project “The Hermitage.
Cats” and a video "Cats"