The Hermitage Academic Library is Russia’s largest and one of its oldest museum libraries. Dedicated to art history, it has been an unalienable part of the Hermitage since its foundation. It is believed to have been created in 1762, the year when Catherine the Great established the position of a librarian for her book collection. At present, the Academic Library contains over 800 000 publications on art, history and historical sciences, and architecture in Russian and many European and Oriental languages.
The Academic Library consists of the Central Library and eight branches at the museum’s curatorial departments:
- the Department of Western European Fine Art and Department of Western European Applied Art Library
- the Department of Classical Antiquities Library
- the Oriental Department Library
- the Department of Eastern European and Siberian Archaeology Library
- the Numismatic Department Library
- the Menshikov Palace Library
- the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory Museum Library
The Rare Books and Manuscripts sector of the Academic Library numbers around 10 000 rare editions: European and Russian manuscripts, Russian and Western early printed books, a collection of decorative bindings, unique ‘presentation’ items from Imperial libraries and autographs of prominent Russian and European figures.
The Library curators are engaged in active research. Temporary displays of books are organised regularly, including Calendar, the Keeper of Time, A Book Museum, Eagles and Lions United...The Art of Heraldry in a Book, Chamber of Book Curiosities in the Hermitage, A Treasury of Books. 250 Years of the Hermitage Library.