Sunday, 31 October 2010

Saint Petersburg - The Hermitage

While in Saint Petersburg we spent 2 afternoons in The Hermitage; Saint Petersburg's first public museum housed in three separate buildings: the Winter Palace, the Old Hermitage and the New Hermitage.
On our first day there we spent hours wandering around the 2nd floor visiting the state rooms, including the room where the October revolution came to an end, with the stopped clock recording the time.
The state rooms were amazing in scale and grandure. Also amazing was the Hidden Treasures display of French artwork, taken from Germany after WWII and now quite discretely displayed within the museum (I gather Germany is quite interested in getting them back).
We also did a guided tour of the vaulted "diamond room" where some of the most valuable pieces are kept (but no pictures were allowed).
On the second day we focused on the 3rd floor containing modern art, and also a very interesting Oriental and Middle Eastern display.
Then we made sure to spend some time on the 1st floor looking at the prehistoric artifacts from finds around Russia.
All in all it was quite exhausting but really interesting. I'm sure it's true that you could spend many days wandering around the museum, not least because it is quite confusingly configured! Also interesting were the countless "babushkas" who guard each of the rooms both in the Hermitage but also in the Ethnography museum - I don't think there was any doubt about who is in charge of the museums!

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