Collecting works that tomorrow will become history

A determined campaign to bring contemporary art and its admirers into the Hermitage Museum is spearheaded by the new Hermitage 20/21 project. Rooms of 20th- and 21st-century art will be a feature of the new museum wing in the magnificent General Staff Building, which faces the Winter Palace across Palace Square. Its reconstruction is to be completed in 2014 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Museum’s foundation. The renovated rooms will be used not only to display paintings, sculptures and graphic works but also for installations, performances and film showing.

The Hermitage Museum systematically arranges exhibitions of contemporary Western European art. The aim of the Hermitage 20/21 project is to make contemporary art accessible to all, closer to ordinary people, provoking in them positive emotions—in other words, to attract a new generation of St. Petersburg and guests of the city into the Museum. Temporary exhibitions of works by contemporary artists as well as displays of 20th-century art of long duration have become part of this program.

The Hermitage 20/21 project is to open a new important stage in the collecting activity of the Museum. While the Museum already owns the works of some of the great artists of the 20th century—Matisse, Picasso, Kandinsky, Malevich, among others, but it does not yet have a representative collection of art of the second half of the 20th to the early 21st century. However, the Hermitage’s exceptional position as a universal museum of international art gives it more possibility than any other to bridge this gap.

Being one of the oldest museums in the world, the Hermitage deals with the history of the world culture, preserving and displaying its outstanding samples. Contemporary art, the history of which is being created today, will be studied in terms of philosophy. Within the Hermitage 20/21 project we hope to develop a new philosophical approach to understanding art. The success of this approach will require the accurate identification of what is important in the new art and total flexibility over the manner in which it is presented to the public.

The Hermitage is open for collaboration with collectors and artists who would like to support the Hermitage 20/21 project with their works, as well as with individuals, companies and foundations that desire to help make this campaign a success. To realize this project a working group has been created in the museum headed by Prof. Mikhail B. Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage. Dr. Dmitry Ozerkov, senior researcher of the Department of Western European art, was appointed a curator of exhibitions of contemporary art. The project is financed by the museum itself and its affiliates. The Hermitage Museum Foundation Israel designated the Hermitage 20/21 project as part of its main agendas.