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Culture news, 07.12.2004 17:42

Piotrovsky on Hermitage Mission

The Hermitage December 7th marks the 240th anniversary of the State Hermitage. It was founded in 1764 when a collection of paintings, which Catherine the Great purchased from Berlin merchant Johann Ernest Gotzkowski, arrived in St. Petersburg.

Thus regular collecting of artistic values began. A pavilion to keep the collections was built near the Winter Palace some years later. It was called the Hermitage. The museum's birthday is traditionally marked on December 7, the day of St. Catherine, patron saint of the Empress. December 9th is another anniversary. Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovsky will turn 60. He told Vremya Novostei newspaper about the museum's life and future.

"The Hermitage is a symbol of statehood and I like this connection to politics," the director said adding that the museum should stay away from everyday big politics. However, it would be wrong to be completely abstracted from it because in this case the politics will interfere in the museum's affairs. "It is important to mark the distance. That is what we are doing now," Mr. Piotrovsky said.

"We earn 50% of the Hermitage budget. This contributes to our internal and external freedom. We should preserve financial autonomy under the reinforced state. In this case we will not let politics interfere in our museum's affairs and ideology," he noted.

According to the director, the museum's purpose is to speak about history, including the history of art, honestly without speculations. Only things bear such important information because they reflect the spirit of the time.

The Hermitage has exhibition centers in London and Amsterdam. One more center will be opened in Kazan next year. There are few museums in the world having such permanent exhibition centers.

The Hermitage should make its collections widely available, Mikhail Piotrovsky stressed. In his opinion, the Hermitage mission is "Russia's cultural attack".

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