The 250th anniversary of the Hermitage!

08 December, 2014

On Saturday, the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg celebrated its 250th birthday with a mesmerising 3-D laser show on Дворцовая Площадь (Palace Square), which detailed the history of the Hermitage Museum, and a special exhibition within the Hermitage itself.

I went to the Hermitage in the day on Saturday to see what the museum had done in order to commemorate 250 years to the day that the Hermitage was officially opened. The festivities started on Saturday with the unveiling of a unique exhibition of an ancient and world-famous sculpture. The Elgin Marbles are a collection of statues from Ancient Greece, which used to decorate the top of the Parthenon in Athens. Half remain in the Greek capital, while the rest have always been in the British Museum and have never left London until now. One of the sculptures, depicting the Greek river god Illissos, has been temporarily transferred to the Hermitage to celebrate its 250th anniversary. It was the first time that the British Museum had been asked to lend any of the Parthenon sculptures, and the 25-century old statue really is a magnificent sight!

Secondly, the Hermitage are running a temporary exhibition dedicated to the works of famous British painter Francis Bacon, which features 25 of his works for the first time ever in Russia! However, the main event was on Saturday evening.  Between 7pm-10pm, the museum and its surrounding buildings were lit up every 30 minutes by an incredible light show accompanied by music from different time periods of Russian history. The laser show depicted the history of the Hermitage from its birth right up to the present day. The spectacle featured the most famous paintings in the museum’s collection, as well as intertwining major events in Russia’s history over the past two centuries with the fortunes of the State Hermitage itself.  The show lasted about 15 minutes and it was even more beautiful when I saw it as it was snowing heavily!

On Sunday, workers at the Hermitage commemorated the founder of the museum, Catherine the Great, by laying flowers at her tomb within the Peter and Paul Cathedral. I returned to the Hermitage on Sunday and the Palace Square and Winter Palace were both still illuminated by beautiful lights around the square. In the evening on Sunday, the official anniversary of the birth of the Hermitage, there was a ball and banquet for prestigious guests from around the world in order to round off the celebrations.

All in all, the weekend was a perfect way to celebrate the 250th birthday of the Hermitage and the majestic laser show really did the museum justice. As a Brit myself, I was amazed to see one of the Elgin Marbles outside of the British Museum and the Francis Bacon exhibition was a wonderful collection which really brought the artist’s career into the spotlight again. The Hermitage’s birthday was a wonderful event and I hope that I will get to see another one in my lifetime!

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