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Cultured Isolation. The Hermitage online and offline

Published 08 June 2020

Between 17 March 2020, when visitors’ access to the Hermitage was suspended, and the present moment, the overall total number of views for new videos across the State Hermitage’s social media a has exceeded 31,600,000, and including visits to the “Virtual Tour” section of the museum website, there have been around 35,700,000 views. In all, over two and a half months, the museum has put out 128 broadcasts and 181 Instagram live streams.

The main event of the past week was Intermuseum 2020, the 22nd such international festival, devoted this year to the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. On its virtual stand at the festival, the State Hermitage presented the Hermitage Academy with over 70 museums participating in its sessions. From 27 to 30 May, there was live streaming of sessions in several sectors: “The Evacuation of Museum Collections”, “The Fate of Museums, Cultural and Historical Monuments on the Front Line and in the Occupied Territories”, “The Work of Museums in the Rear of the Country”, “The Memory of the War in Museums of Different Types”. Around 90 presentations were made on the life of museums during the war, both those that found themselves on the front line or on occupied territory and those in the rear. In their reports, representatives of different museums spoke about the organization of the evacuation of treasures, about educational work during military operations, and much else. The live broadcasts and recordings of the Hermitage Academy on the museum’s social media pages attracted more than 1,200,000 views. The Hermitage received a large number of messages of thanks, both from museums that participated on the stand and from social network subscribers. The recordings of the discussions are still available on the Hermitage’s official pages in the social media.

Specially for the Hermitage’s programme at the Intermuseum festival, the museum’s School Centre prepared a lecture for schoolchildren on “The Hermitage during the Siege”.

The Hermitage also took an active part in the festival’s business programme. Alexei Bogdanov, Deputy General Director of the State Hermitage, acted as moderator for two panel discussions in the “Museum Security” sector. They dealt with ensuring fire safety in cultural institutions and various security systems in the museum.

On 30 May, we celebrated the Day of the Hermitage Cat in keeping with tradition. The winners of the art competition “The Hermitage Cats. Cultured Isolation” were announced. This year the competition covered an even greater area. We were sent over 800 works from Finland, Estonia, France, Italy, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, as well as many parts of Russia. In 2020 for the first time, we also had older participants. The events of the Day of the Hermitage Cat also included the traditional stroll around the cellars of the Winter Palace, only this year it took place online.

The Days of Classical Antiquity 2020 festival for children is continuing with the start of a new online project – “The Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece at Home and at War”. Any participant aged between 3 and 10 can imagine him or herself as one of the glorious heroes or deities of Ancient Greece. The youngsters will be helped in turning themselves into one of the personages of classical mythology by educational videos, presentations and quests prepared by the Department of Classical Antiquity. On 15 May, the children’s art competition “Encounters in the Hermitage. The Invincible Heroes of Ancient Greece” that became the main event of this year’s festival came to a close. In 2020, for the first time in the festival’s history, not only youngsters from across Russia, but also those living abroad had the opportunity to join in. Entries were submitted by more than 1,000 budding artists from a range of countries – Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Finland, France and Ukraine. Within Russia, the competition drew interest from more than 50 towns and cities.

On 20 May 2020, the Hermitage–Kazan Centre re-opened its doors to visitors. Due to the epidemiological situation, special rules have been introduced for viewing the display. For instance, no more than 10 individual visitors can be in one hall at the same time. Visitors are obliged to keep 1.5 metres distance between them and must follow a particular route around the display. Guided tours and special programmes are being provided for groups of no more than 5 persons and must be booked in advance.

More details about the centre’s operations

In Yekaterinburg, construction work has reached the final stage on the Hermitage–Urals Cultural and Educational Centre, a large-scale project that includes a display-and-memorial block and another for restoration and storage. Construction of both blocks is planned to be completed in June 2020.

See details

From 1 June, the Hermitage–Amsterdam Exhibition Centre is once again accepting visitors. It is presently holding the exhibition “Jewels! Glittering at the Russian Court” with a run that has been extended to the end of September 2020. More about the centre’s operations can be found on the museum’s website.

Recently the Chinese company Baidu, which provides web services, chief among which is the search engine of the same name, the leader among Chinese search engines, inaugurated a special online platform to carry material about museums in China and worldwide. The State Hermitage was the first, and so far only, Russian museum to be represented on the platform. Baidu’s resources are being used to broadcast a Chinese-language guided tour of the state rooms of the Hermitage which has already attracted some 1,300,000 views.

Last week, as part of a joint project between the State Hermitage and Sberbank of Russia entitled “Artists in Sberbank Online”, the Sberbank Online banking app began featuring a selection of welcome screens and digital greetings cards featuring paintings by French artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries from the Hermitage collection. Up until 15 July 2020, users of Sberbank Online will have access to images of works by famous Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, including paintings by Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Alfred Sisley and Vincent Van Gogh.

This week we began broadcasting a series of online guided tours of Italian museums in Russian. The project “From Italy to the Hermitage” is a mark of respect and gratitude to the Saint Petersburg museum and a means of expressing support for the people of Russia. Participating in it are three major museums, representing northern, central and southern Italy: the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria in Perugia, and the Museo Nazionale Archeologico, Naples in conjunction with the University of Naples “L’Orientale”. The tours will be placed on those museums’ YouTube channels and broadcast on the Hermitage’s social media.

On 4 June, the first film of a new series within the educational project “Pearls of the Collection” came out. The Hermitage is presenting a series of videos on the art of the Low Countries that has been produced with the support of the Shell concern. The episodes will be broadcast on the Hermitage Academy website and in the museum’s social media, enabling all who wish to view the finest collection of Dutch art outside of the Netherlands. The first film of the series is devoted to the earliest Netherlandish painting in the Hermitage collection – Robert Campin’s diptych of the Trinity and Virgin and Child by a Fireplace.

On 5 June, the first film in a new joint project between the Hermitage and the Official Hotel of the State Hermitage will come out: “Palace Banquets. From kitchen to table”. This new educational venture will contain videos about the history and culture of palace banquets in Russia, the culinary preferences of the country’s rulers, and fine dishes from the imperial table. Irina Bagdasarova, a senior researcher at the State Hermitage, will speak about the setting and the grand adornments of imperial dinners served during receptions at the palaces. The narrative will be illustrated with items from the Hermitage collection – table services and ornaments made of faience, glass, porcelain, silver, bronze and other materials, depictions of palace ceremonies in graphic art, watercolours and books, and, of course, menus listing the dishes served. The culinary component will be the responsibility of Dmitry Tsvetkov, head chef of the Catherine the Great restaurant at the Official Hotel of the State Hermitage. Starting from the names of dishes on a historical menu, the expert will creatively devise recipes for them and give a practical step-by-step demonstration of how he produces his masterpieces.

This is how the Hermitage is continuing to work 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 (all times are UTC+3):

 

4 June
1.00 pm Hermitage Online. Russian furniture in Historicism-era interiors. Narrated by Ivan Garmanov
4.00 pm Robert Campin’s diptych of the Trinity and Virgin and Child by a Fireplace. Film in the “Pearls of the Collection” series
5.00 pm From the Hermitage to Italy. 15th-Century Italian Painting. Narrated by Tatyana Kustodiyeva (publication of the guided tour from 2 June with Italian subtitles).

 

5 June

1.00 pm Palace Banquets. From kitchen to table. The first half of the 18th century and “pies with baked pigeons”
6.00 pm Lecture from the American Friends of the Hermitage (in English). “When Catherine met Denis.”
In the near future we shall be showing:
6 June
1.00 pm Premiere: The Hermitage Staraya Derevnya. Open storage of Buddhist art

 

7 June

1.00 pm Premiere: The Hermitage’s Archaeological Collections. The Hall of the Bronze and Early Iron Ages
6.00 pm Video from the Finnish Institute: Albert Edelfelt and the Romanovs