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The State Hermitage Museum is a museum of art in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The Hermitage is the largest public museum in Russia and home to one of the greatest art collections in the world. The Russian empress Catherine the Great founded the Hermitage in 1764 as a museum for the royal court. The holdings originally consisted of Western European works of art that she purchased from private collections. These were housed in a private gallery called the Small Hermitage that was connected to the Winter Palace, the vast, ornate winter home of the Russian tsars. The tsars who succeeded – Catherine in particular - substantially increased the collections, which expanded into the Old Hermitage, another private gallery adjacent to the Winter Palace. The buildings comprising the Hermitage were rebuilt after a fire in the Winter Palace in 1837. The museum opened to the public in 1852 and became public property known as the State Hermitage Museum in 1917 following the Russian Revolution.


Now collections of the Hermitage comprise nearly 3 million items. The museum's storerooms, exhibitions, departments and services are housed in 10 buildings, 7 of which are monuments of the 18th and 19th centuries’ Russian culture. The Winter Palace that comprises the main collection of the state museum has 1,057 halls and rooms. It is one of the most luxurious places on the surface of our planet. One can find here miracles from every corner of the world, from Egyptian mummies to Picasso’s great paintings. The collection also includes examples of the Russian art, artifacts from non-Western cultures, Oriental art, coins, and jewelry.


The Hermitage`s collection of the Western European art is particularly strong in Italian, Spanish, Flemish, and Dutch paintings and includes major works by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Giorgione, Caravaggio, Diego Velazquez, El Greco, Rembrandt, and Pieter Paul Rubens. The Schukin and Morozov Collections of impressionism, postimpressionism, and modern paintings contain many of the finest works by Henri Matisse, as well as major paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Francisco Goya, Claude Monet and many others.


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