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Cultured Isolation. The Hermitage Online

Published 21 April 2020

Between 17 March 2020 and the present moment, the overall total number of views for videos across the State Hermitage’s social media and the Virtual Visit section of the museum’s website has exceeded 20 million.

On 17 March, the first live streaming broadcast as part of the Cultured Isolation programme took place. Before the staff went into quarantine, 55 topics were filmed that are now being released each day in all the Hermitage’s social media. Besides that, almost every day the staff of the Security Service are placing video records of the state of the museum halls on Instagram that are supplemented by commentaries from the relevant specialists and go online as joint broadcasts.


Since 17 March, 69 programmes and 61 Instagram broadcasts have been put out. Those programmes have so far attracted 16,200,000 views, while adding in the views for the Virtual Visit section of the Hermitage website brings the total to over 20 million. Those figures are several times the annual number of actual physical visitors to the museum and the number of views registered for all the museum’s official Internet resources between 1 January and 16 March 2020. As a gesture of solidarity with the people of Italy, the Hermitage has presented three online guided tours in Italian as part of the Hermitage–Italy project, and similar guided tours have also been arranged in English, French, Chinese and Spanish.

New features have appeared within the Hermitage Online and Cultured Isolation projects. One of them is “The Hermitage Visiting Colleagues”, devoted to informing people about other museums. At this moment, it is vital to draw attention to small museums that are having a particularly bad time. It is important that visitors do not forget about them by the time museums reopen. There have already been a live broadcast from the museum-model of the Petersburg Water Basin, a broadcast from the Museum of Bridges and another marking the 30th anniversary of the Museum of the World Ocean. Among the “premieres” was a guided tour of the Hermitage–Vyborg exhibition centre, in the pipeline are the Hermitage–Siberia centre and its “Gripping the Hilt of the Sword” exhibition of weapons.

Continuing the joint broadcasts that the Hermitage has begun on Instagram, on 19 April, as part of the Hermitage Online project in the social media, there was a tour with a member of the staff of the Department for Scientific and Educational Work giving a live commentary from home to accompany a video feed from the museum.

The Hermitage Online is also spotlighting the activities of the operational services in the museum. Since 27 March, a task force has been functioning in the State Hermitage that was created to ensure the timely coordination and monitoring of the various works being carried out in the museum. Permission has been given for some staff of the operational services to be engaged, in addition to their main duties, in the creation of short videos and live streams that are being published in the museum’s social media. On 9 April, the Hermitage cats went live, drawing more than 520,000 views. On 13 April there was a live broadcast in which Alexei Bogdanov, Deputy General Director of the State Hermitage and head of the task force, participated with an instalment entitled “The Hermitage’s Engineering Systems. The life of the museum and its operational services”. We also have other broadcasts devoted to the life of the museum and its support staff planned.

The museum’s programmes for children have moved to an online format: several guided tours for youngsters have been prepared by the staff of the School Centre and the Centre for Work with Volunteers, and on 6 April the annual Days of Classical Antiquity festival devoted to the art of the ancient Greco-Roman world began. This year the festival is also taking place in the museum’s social media. For children and adults a new section has been created on the site of the Hermitage Academy a games library with challenges of various degrees of difficulty. There you can test your knowledge in quizzes, divide a Kandinsky painting into separate colours, assemble a Cézanne still life or a Gauguin painting from cubes, or remember Danae’s marvellous escape after being locked up in the tower –

In this way the Hermitage is working to prevent our visitors being separated from the museum’s collections in the hope that this will help people to get through enforced isolation in a cultured way.

In recent days the Hermitage has “premiered” or live streamed:

18 April
1.00 pm – The Gold Rooms. Khan Kubrat’s hoard

19 April
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Italian Art in the Hermitage (live streamed with remote commentary by a guide)

20 April
Two Moorish costumes worn by servants of the Imperial Court

21 April
The Life of Ancient Greece. The Halls of the Classical Antiquity


Scheduled for the next few days:

22 April
The display of Silver in the Alexander Hall
The Hermitage Visiting Colleagues: the Hermitage–Siberia Centre

23 April
Europe in the Era of the Migration of Peoples. The display in the Kutuzov Corridor. Part 1

24 April
Europe in the Era of the Migration of Peoples. The display in the Kutuzov Corridor. Part 2

25 April
The Gold Rooms. The Kokhlach burial mound

26 April
The War Gallery of 1812