Second floor: a wander around the departments of the Hermitage
The scope of the State Hermitage’s collections makes the museum one of the most encyclopaedic on Earth in its coverage of world art and creates the opportunity for a presentation like that in the first part of Treasury! Almost no other museum in the world could do so. The comprehensiveness of the collections will be equally evident in the second part of the exhibition, where – as in the Hermitage itself – visitors will find themselves skipping randomly from one culture or art form to another. They will encounter art from Siberia, Ancient Greece and Rome, Western Europe and the Orient, Russian art, as well as arms and armour, ancient books and manuscripts, contemporary (21st-century) art and the decorative arts.
Each room will feature rare objects and outstanding works from all the cultural regions represented in the collections of the Hermitage. The rooms focusing on Western European art, for example, will present not only Rogier van der Weyden’s masterpiece Saint Lucas painting the Madonna and Child, but fine portraits by Moroni and Van Dyck, a marble bust by Bernini and works by a wide range of major artists like Dürer, Fragonard, Rembrandt, Thorvaldsen and Zurbarán. In the rooms displaying oriental art, exhibits will include early Islamic art from Syria, Iran and Central Asia and a Sogdic wall painting from Penjikent.
There will also be a room devoted to one of the Winter Palace’s most extraordinary interiors: the nineteenth-century Malachite Room. This was once the anteroom to the tsar’s audience chamber, St George’s Hall, and its interior is a reminder of the imperial character of the Romanovs’ Winter Palace – now the most important edifice in the State Hermitage complex. Exhibits will include outstanding examples of the decorative arts, such as the renowned thirteenth-century Processional Cross of St Trudberg (the ‘Freiburg Cross’), while Russian contemporary art will be represented by the installation BACH by Dmitry Prigov (1940–2007).
Finally, the exhibition will touch on the State Hermitage’s latest projects, showing the kind of museum it intends to be in the 21st century. Branch museums now exist both in Russia and elsewhere. The oldest and greatest of them is Hermitage Amsterdam. Within Russia, there are branches in Kazan, Omsk and Vyborg. Hermitage Barcelona is expected to open in 2019. The State Hermitage has recently launched its own Outsider Art Project, in partnership with Hermitage Amsterdam and the Outsider Art Museum previously mentioned in this document. In St Petersburg, the museum complex is to be expanded through the addition of new buildings and historic palaces: the Menshikov Palace, the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory, the General Staff Building, and the new restoration and storage centre at Staraya Derevnya.