The Departments Including Art, Archeology and Antiquities
Antiquities department: One of the oldest departments of the museum, it covers Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and the Northern Black Sea region. The collection presents 106,000 items, ranging from 2000 BC to the 4th century AD. The permanent exhibition occupies twenty-three rooms, mostly on the ground floor of the New Hermitage building.
Department of Archaeology of Eastern Europe and Siberia: Originally part of the Department of Antiquities, it was established as an independent entity in 1930. The collection presents over 500,000 objects whose permanent exhibitions occupy twenty-three rooms of the Hermitage.
The Arsenal: First formed in the early 19th century as the personal collection of the future Emperor Nicholas I, this department is now organized into two sections. Arms and Armor contains 16,000 examples from Western Europe, the Orient and Russia. Military Heraldry includes 6,500 military banners and 40,000 prints and drawings depicting equipment of European armies of the 18th and 19th centuries. Until the 1917 Revolution, these were all kept in the personal library of the Emperor.
History of Russian Culture: Established in 1941, this department contains examples of Russian fine arts and Russian applied arts, as well as the remaining portion of Peter the Great’s first Winter Palace located beneath the theater. The collection presents over 300,000 objects which are exhibited in over fifty rooms, many of them are palace interiors preserved in the Winter Palace building.
The Menshikov Palace: Originally set up in 1981 as part of the Department of Russian Culture, it became a separate entity in 1996. The permanent and temporary exhibitions occupy thirty rooms of the Menshikov Palace, which is located across the Neva on the University Embankment and is one of the earliest palaces of St. Petersburg. The original appearance of the palace interiors, combining traditional Russian and European construction methods and forms is fully recreated. The palace is furnished with furniture and objects from the Hermitage collections, including Imperial property and items that belonged to the nobility of the time, some to Menshikov himself.
Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory: Set up on the basis of the historical collection of the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory Museum, it was put under the care of the Hermitage in February 2001. Over 30,000 items include examples of porcelain produced by the Factory from its inception in 1774 until the 1917 revolution, through the Soviet period as well as the post-Soviet era. Also included are examples of porcelain from private Russian and West European factories not to mention glasswork, ceramics, drawings and photographs.
Numismatics Department: This department is one of the oldest in the museum, the groundwork for which was laid by Catherine the Great, but which was formally established only in 1805.The collection presents over 1,200,000 items. It is divided into two sections: coins of the Ancient World, Asia and Africa and coins of Europe and America. These collections are primarily displayed in temporary exhibitions in the Museum.
Oriental Department: Founded in 1920, this department consists of four sections: the Ancient Orient; Byzantium and the Near East; Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Crimea; and the Middle East. There are over 180,000 items in the collection, the permanent exhibition of which occupies about fifty rooms in the Winter Palace building. Items on display include jewelry, metalwork, glassware, ceramics and porcelain, ivory carvings, lacquer, enamel, textiles, sculptures, paintings, Byzantine icons, funerary artifacts and cult objects.
Department of Western European Fine Arts. One of the oldest and largest departments of the Museum, this department has sixty-three staff members caring for over 400,000 items. It is divided into four sections: painting of the 13th to the 18th centuries (including Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, Titian, etc.); paintings and sculptures of the 19th and 20th centuries (including the Impressionists); drawings; and prints. The collection of drawings and watercolors is the largest in Europe. Their permanent exhibition occupies 120 rooms in all four buildings of the Hermitage.
Department of Western European Applied Arts: This collection of applied art, precious metals and gems, including the engraved gems so beloved by Catherine the Great, dates from the 18th century. There are approximately 150,000 items in the department.
The Research Library: Catherine the Great’s personal 40,000 volume collection of books forms the core of this library, one of the oldest and largest in Russia. Now it consists of over 800,000 books on art, history, architecture and culture in all manner of languages. A section of Rare Books and Manuscripts consists of over 10,000 especially rare items: European and Russian manuscripts; early Russian and Western printed books; artistic book covers; uniquely decorated presentation gifts from the Emperors’ libraries; and autographs of famous people..
Department of Manuscripts and Documents: Established as an independent department in 1980, it combines the documentary and photographic archives of the museum, the acquisition of which began in 1805. The manuscripts are divided into 67 sub-collections consisting of 37,392 items. The Hermitage first began receiving photographic materials in the middle of the 19th century, and has one of the world’s largest collections of daguerreotypes. The photographic archive was set up in the 1920s, and now includes 75,134 negatives, and about 1,000 photographs.
Department of Education: 1925, the year public excursions commenced at the Hermitage, marks the formal beginning of department, although the Hermitage was engaged in educational activities even earlier. Today, the department’s 137 highly-qualified and multi-lingual staff annually conduct more than 30,000 Museum tours for groups ranging from schoolchildren to VIPs, and present over 500 lectures on a wide variety of topics.
Department of Electronic Publications: Since its establishment in 2009, the professionals of this department have supported the content requirements of the Hermitage’s website; in preparing video and multimedia applications for the Museum’s educational center; and in providing information support of temporary and permanent exhibitions.
Department of History and Restoration of Architectural Objects: First established in 1975 as the Office of the Chief Architect, it became a research department in 1992. The staff members deal with problems inherent in the preservation of the Hermitage’s unique architectural complex of buildings; their adaptation to modern operational conditions; and the carrying out of their architectural restoration.
The Laboratory for Biological Control: Originally established in the 1960s to combat insect pests, it became a research laboratory around 1990 and consists of experienced and specialized biologists (entomologists, mycologists, microbiologists and climatologists).
Department of New Acquisitions: Established in 2000, this department processes the accession of items to the State Hermitage and handles administrative matters related to internal exhibitions within the Museum.
The School Center. The staff members develop specialized programs for children of pre-school and elementary school pupils. The Center has functioned as an independent unit since 1999. It includes the Art Studio, Lecture Hall, various after-school study groups, as well as something unique to the Hermitage: the Young Archeologist Club and the Young Art Historians Club.
Department of Scientific Documentation: This Department maintains the inventory register of all objects in the Hermitage, whether on display or in storage, as well as controlling their movements; registering new acquisitions; verifying documentation; and checking as needed their availability for display or loans. The staff members are also developing a master electronic inventory of all museum collections.
Department of Scientific Restoration and Conservation: The Department includes thirteen laboratories: easel painting, tempera painting, monumental painting, Oriental painting, graphics, sculpture and gemstones, applied arts monuments, organic materials, fabrics, clocks and musical mechanisms, precious metals, furniture, and luster ware
Department of Scientific and Technical Examination: In 1936, this department became the first X-ray facility in Russia and one of the first in the world. It functioned as an independent laboratory since 1970 but, after being joined with the chemical laboratory in 1997, it became an independent department. It has become one of the largest centers for the scientific and technical examination and authentication of works of art in Russia.