The Hermitage Museum, one of the largest museums in the world, was founded in the eighteenth century as the private collection of Empress Catherine II. It was first opened to the public in 1852 when the New Hermitage was launched as the Imperial Museum. The State Hermitage has been under the direct patronage of the President of the Russian Federation since 1996.
Throughout the entire twentieth century the contents of the collections have changed significantly. Starting in 1920, the Hermitage gave 460 items to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, while receiving items from nationalized private collections. Between 1932 and 1934 collections of the Hermitage were sold abroad or transferred to other museums of the Soviet Republics. Following the German invasion of 1941, the Hermitage collections were evacuated to the Urals. The Museum was reopened in 1945.
Some of the artworks brought to Russia by the Soviet Trophy Brigades during the Second World War were transferred to the Hermitage. They were stored in the vaults of the Museum and shown at several Trophy Art exhibitions in the Hermitage and the Pushkin Museum. Some of these collections were returned to their original countries. However, about 800 paintings taken from Berlin museums and palaces, for example, are still held in one of the special areas for displaced artworks on the top floor of the Hermitage.
The following online resources including information on looted artworks are accessible from the Hermitage homepage:
1. The Digital Collection - a virtual gallery of high-resolution images from the Museum - includes looted artworks. These are not separately indicated but can be found by checking the provenance of the individual images.
2. Exhibition Archive - an archive of all exhibitions from 1998 to 2004 including information on the following Trophy Art exhibitions:
· Paul Cézanne and the Russian Avant-garde (8 August 1998 - 24 September 1998)
· Schliemann, St. Petersburg and Troy (17 June 1998 - 1999)
· Marienkirche Stained Glass (2 April 2002 - 1 September 2002)
3. Full list of exhibition catalogues (published in English by Abrams, New York). This is of interest as it includes exhibition catalogues of Trophy Art containing detailed provenance information:
· Paul Cézanne and Russian Avant-Garde of the Early 20th Century by Albert Kostenevich
· Schliemann-Petersburg-Troja by various authors
· Masterpieces of European Drawing from the Private Collections of Germany by Tatyana Ilatovskaya
· Hidden Treasures Revealed. French Painting of the 19th-20th Centuries from the Private Collections of Germany by Albert Kostenevich
Items listed in the catalogues above were looted from the following private collections:
· Otto Gerstenberg/Margarete Scharf (Berlin)
· Helene Bechstein (Berlin)
· Otto Krebs (Holzdorf)
· Friedrich Siemens
· Baron von der Heydt
· Alice Meyer (Berlin)
· Bernhard Koehler (Berlin)
· Kunsthalle Bremen
Further information on displaced artworks stored in the Hermitage has been digitised by the Internet Project 'Restitutsiya'
The State Hermitage Museum
34, Dvortsovaya Naberezhnaya
St Petersburg, 190000
Tel.: 007 812 110 9079
Fax: 007 812 312 1550
Email: email@example.com (general office)
Tuesday to Sunday 10.30-18.00
Public holidays and preceding days: 10.30-17.00
The State Hermitage Museum
< http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/>, accessed 17 March 2004.