On February 28 the Hermitage opened its third branch abroad – Hermitage-Amstelkhof in Amsterdam, in addition to the its two other branches in London and Las-Vegas.
The Hermitage has about 2.5 million visitors a year, however the museum wants more visitors. The famous museum conducts the policy of cultural expansion. Only Solomon Guggenheim Foundation can launch similar international projects by patronizing the museums of modern art in New York, Venice, Bilbao, Berlin and Las-Vegas.
The Hermitage and Guggenheim Foundation were doomed to start a joint project. It became the museum in Las Vegas opened in 2001. The Hermitage is going to proceed with opening its more one branch museum in New York.
"The Hermitage is among the four biggest museums in the world, along with Prado in Madrid, Louvre in Paris and Metropolitan Museum in New York”, says Director of the Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky. “We are exhibiting only about three percent of our collection which has more than three million items. Opening branches abroad is the best way of integrating into the global cultural space”.
Each project abroad has its special purpose. “The Hermitage halls in London are supposed to maintain intellectual presence of our museum in Great Britain”, said Mr. Piotrovsky. “Opening a museum in Las-Vegas had a different purpose: finding approaches to the new audience – not regular museum visitors, but rather entertainment industry customers”.
The Hermitage in Amsterdam is supposed to represent St. Petersburg in Western Europe, to become some kind of big cultural embassy. The building of this branch located on the Amstel river bank, looks like the Hermitage building in St. Petersburg.
The Hermitage has many admirers in Holland. The Russian museum possesses one of the biggest collections of Dutch and Flemish paintings in the world. The Dutch are aware of the visit of Russian czar Peter the Great in their country.
However, Mr. Pitrovsky said that no Dutch paintings will be exhibited in Amsterdam. “We will bring only the items Holland does not have – we are Russian cultural embassy”.
In 2004 two more exhibits –on the family of the last Russian emperor and Venice art of XVIII century – will be opened.
The Hermitage had no problem with raising 39 million Euro in funds for starting its Dutch project.
"Dutch companies have always sponsored the Hermitage. In addition, the forefathers of many businessmen were trading with Russia ”, says Keis der Horst, Board member of the Association of Friends of Hermitage in Holland. “My relatives sold tobacco, wine and chocolate in St Petersburg in 1750-1920. I feel special attachment to that city and like coming there”
The Hermitage has a global purpose – improving the image of Russia in the global community.
”When the Hermitage halls were opened in London, British media wrote more favorably about Russia”, says Mr. Piotrovsky. “This means that our efforts produce certain result”.
Source: Zhurnal Rus