On 26 and 27 October 2017, the Hermitage–Amsterdam Centre was the venue for an international conference of Friends of the Hermitage. The meeting was arranged with the direct involvement of the Dutch Friends of the Hermitage and representatives of Friends societies from nine different countries participated – Russia, the Netherlands, the USA, the UK, Italy, Israel, Finland, China and Switzerland.
On 27 October the working session was opened by Mikhail Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage, and Ernst Ween, the chairman of the Dutch Friends of the Hermitage. In the course of the conference there was discussion of current issues of interaction, both between the museum and Friends societies abroad and also between the international organizations themselves. New collaboration agreements were signed, laying down the main directions of the Friends’ activities in support of the State Hermitage.
In the second half of the day conference participants took part in a symposium for museum specialists and friends of museums entitled “The Art of Connecting”, at which Mikhail Piotrovsky gave a lecture about Hermitage centres around the world and about the museum’s new projects, including the newly-opened exhibition “The Winter Palace and the Hermitage in 1917. History was made here”.
The State Hermitage was the first museum in Russia to establish a Friends society and it still continues to function 20 years later. Today the network of Friends of the Hermitage societies, uniting seven organizations around the world is a unique phenomenon among the international museum community. The regular conferences of the Friends of the Hermitage serve to strengthen collaboration between the museum and its Friends and help to develop this international network, which new members intend to join in the near future.