The ceremonial opening of the Imperial Hermitage Museum took place this day 164 years ago with a special performance in the Hermitage Theatre, followed by a dinner for 600 persons in the sumptuous Skylight Halls.


Luigi Premazzi(1861). View of the New Hermitage from Millionaya Street. Source: Hermitage Museum

The New Hermitage was the first building in Russia constructed especially to house the museum collections. Emperor Nicholas I invited German architect Leo von Klenze, whose works largely formed the image of the museum architecture in Europe, to come to Russia and build the Imperial Hermitage. The architects Nikolay Yefimov and Vasily Stasov, commissioned to execute Klenze’s project, made some essential changes to it in order to fit the new construction to the existing architectural surroundings.

Read more about The Opening of the Imperial Museum of the New Hermitage and about the New Hermitage Building.

However, the museum’s birth date dates back to 1764, the year Empress Catharine II acquired the Gotzkowsky collection.

The Hermitage Museum Foundation (USA) contributes to the preservation and promotion of the rich cultural heritage of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, its more than three million objects and the Museum’s historic buildings.


Mihály Zichy (1874). Ball in the Concert Hall in the Winter Palace, May 1873. Source: Luxury Travel

One of the Hermitage’s main attractions is the Baroque-syle Winter Palace, built between 1754 and 1762 for Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great. From the 1760s onwards it was the main residence of the Tsars.

Today the Winter Palace, together with four more buildings arranged side by side along the river embankment, houses the extensive collections of the Hermitage Museum.

hermitage celebrations

In 2014 a dazzling 3D show kicked off the Hermitage anniversary celebrations.

War and Peace (1966–67), the Oscar-winning adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel, was partially filmed in the Winter Palace.

Russian Ark, the 2002 landmark film by Russian director Alexander Sokurov bears witness to 300 years of Russian history via a fantastical journey through the Hermitage Museum.

The BBC’s 2015 adaptation of War and Peace used St Petersburg for a backdrop in many of the scenes.

You may also be interested in the Popular Hermitage Museum and Saint Petersburg videos PlayList.

Discover more about Saint Petersburg, a city with ‘a vibrant, cosmopolitan atmosphere and some of the most beautiful architecture in Europe’, at the city’s website.

Sources: Travel Channel and The Telegraph