The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia opened its doors to the public on February 7, 1852, making it the first public Russian museum. The museum was founded the Empress Catherine II, popularly known as Catherine the Great, (1729-96) in 1764. But during Catherine’s lifetime, only nobles and ambassadors invited by the Empress had privy to the magnificent collection of masterpieces housed in the Hermitage. The museum takes it name from Catherine II, for whom it served as a place to retreat in solitude among her beloved works of art.
The first works to adorn the walls of Catherine’s Hermitage, were assembled by Johann Ernst Gotzkowski for Fredrick II of Prussia. Fredrick II decided not to purchase the collection due to financial concerns. Catherine, however, had ample means and purchased the 225 works, which consisted of paintings by Rembrandt, Raphael, Titian, Rubens, Jacob Jordaens, Antoon van Dyck, Paolo Veronese, Frans Hals,Holbein, Jan Steen, Hendrick Goltzius, Dirck van Baburen, Hendrick van Balen and Gerrit van Honthorst. Catherine grew her collection to well over 78,000 works including, not only paintings, but also books, engraving, drawings, and coins as well as two natural history galleries.
Today the collection of the Hermitage Museum contains almost 3 million items (2,970,214 to be exact), including the largest collection of paintings in the world.
The Hermitage is one the oldest and largest museums, and it is the most visited museum in Russia and the third most visited in the world.
Main Hermitage Museum complex opening hours:
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday: 10.30-18.00
Hermitage Museum Admission prices: 400 RUB
Citizens of the Russia and Belarus - 250 RUB
Children and students, regardless of nationality, and Russian pensioners - free
Every first Thursday of the month - entrance to the museum is free to all
Museum website: http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/
Join us in July on our tour of Russia with a private pre-opening hours tour of the Hermitage.