News List

Opening of the Hermitage–Ural Cultural and Educational Centre

Published 14 July 2021

From 3 July 2021, the Hermitage–Ural Exhibition Centre – a satellite of the State Hermitage and, at the same time, part of the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts – will open its doors to the public in Yekaterinburg.

There is a long history of collaboration between the museums. The Sverdlovsk Picture Gallery (since 1988 the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts) at 11, Vainer Street, which today houses the Hermitage–Ural Exhibition Centre, became during the Great Patriotic War the centre for the evacuation of the Hermitage with its halls accommodating a branch of the museum and part of its unique exhibits. The choice of date for the opening is no coincidence – exactly 80 years ago, in early July 1941 the first train carrying museum treasures left Leningrad heading eastwards for Sverdlovsk (as Yekaterinburg was then called).

As part of the events marking the opening of the Hermitage–Ural Cultural and Educational Centre, on 2 July there was an online link-up with Mikhail Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage, and Nikita Korytin, Director of the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts, participating.

Mikhail Piotrovsky gave a welcome to the viewers: “I greatly regret not being with you today, but I am incredibly pleased to be able to participate at least this way in this wonderful, symbolic, sacred event. In actual fact, yesterday we opened the first exhibition and today we are continuing with the opening of the centre. We are inaugurating a wonderful monument to a great feat accomplished by culture in the battle with evil and war! It has been born out of the memory of how here, on this soil, the Hermitage’s collections were saved. The first exhibition is devoted to French art from Napoleon to Cézanne. It is inaugurating the third Yekaterinburg-Sverdlovsk Hermitage. The first was located in this same building during the war. The museum’s collections, its staff and its traditions were protected and saved here. The second was a gift after the Great Patriotic War – a large collection of items from the Hermitage belonging to various genres, representing all aspects of an encyclopaedic universal museum. Now, in memory of the first and on the basis of the second, a third is being born – the Hermitage–Ural – a satellite of the State Hermitage. This is the very latest form of museum interaction and at the same time a symbol of tradition and continuity. We are grateful to the management of the Ekaterinburg Museum for making a memorial of the attic room where the Hermitage’s branch in Sverdlovsk was housed during the war. We shall always recall those terrible years as a time of rescue, kindness and museum solidarity, as an occasion for gratitude that will endure for ever. I hope that all the visitors will hear our ‘thank you’ in every item on show in this exhibition and those that follow.”

Nikita Korytin spoke about the history of the building, the creation of the Picture Gallery in Sverdlovsk, the formation of the museum’s stocks. He also described the main stages in the planning of the exhibition centre and gave an online guided tour around the Hermitage–Ural centre.

The main building of the Hermitage–Ural Centre is an object of cultural heritage – the House of the Merchant Bardygin – that has been reconstructed and adapted for modern use. It was constructed in 1912 to the design of the architect Konstantin Babykin, one of the most significant figures for Yekaterinburg architecture in the 20th century.

The ground floor contains halls for temporary exhibitions from the State Hermitage that are planned to be held twice a year, and also all the infrastructure necessary for a comfortable visiting experience – escalators, lifts, a cloakroom, souvenir shop and café.

The first project that is being realized in the restored halls of the historical building is an exhibition of 19th-century French painting and sculpture from the Hermitage collection entitled “From Romanticism to Impressionism”. The display acquaints visitors with one of the world’s most interesting and representative collections of French art. It contains works by such significant artists as Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, Horace Vernet, Paul Delaroche, Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne and Auguste Rodin.

A permanent display, made up of two sections “Art of the Ancient World” and “Western European Art of the 15th – Early 20th Centuries”, has been installed on the floor above. Many of the exhibits there were gifted by the State Hermitage as a mark of gratitude for the safekeeping of its masterpieces during the Great Patriotic War. Today they are an important part of the new permanent display, a reminder of the events of the past and a sort of representation of “the Hermitage in miniature”. The picture of the evolution of European fine art is substantially supplemented by pieces of decorative and applied art together with works of European furniture-makers and bronzesmiths.

In memory of the Hermitage’s wartime sojourn in Sverdlovsk, a memorial display has been created on the attic floor of the historical building that is devoted to the great feat of the members of the Hermitage staff who saved its priceless exhibits deep behind the front line. Carried back to the atmosphere of 1941, visitors are presented with the reminiscences of the museum evacuees, rare photographs and graphic sketches of life in the Sverdlovsk branch of the Hermitage.

It is planned that the new facilities of the Hermitage–Ural Cultural and Educational Centre will be used for large-scale exhibition projects, lectures, conferences, scholarly meetings and museum educational programmes.

The Hermitage–Ural Centre also includes a Restoration and Storage Block at 16b, Vainer Street. It houses the repository of the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts, restoration workshops, rooms for unpacking and acclimatizing paintings, a photographic studio and a research library.


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