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The Winter Palace, home of the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Russia has over 1,700 museums of all types — art, history, literature, music, theater, science, and local lore. They receive a total of 75 million visitors a year. Perhaps, Russia’s best-known museums are the Hermitage and the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg and the Tretyakov Gallery, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and the Historical Museum in Moscow.

St. Petersburg’s Hermitage is one of the world’s largest art museums. It originated in 1764 as Catherine the Great’s private collection, and in 1852 opened its doors to the public. The Hermitage holds fine collections of prehistoric, ancient, medieval, and Renaissance art, as well as of Russian art of the 8-19th centuries. Outstanding examples of European art include works by the Italian masters Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Veronese, Caravaggio, and Giorgione.

The museum’s collection of Flemish and Dutch painting, which includes dozens of canvases by Rubens, Van Dyck and Rembrandt, is famous world­wide. Its Spanish collection has about two hundred paintings, including works by El Greco, Velasquez, Zurbaran, and Ribera. Fine examples of French painting, sculpture, and graphic art are also on display. The Hermitage holds a total of three million artifacts of different eras and civilizations.

The Hermitage collection is housed in the Winter Palace, the magnificent winter residence of the Imperial family, built in the 18th century in the Baroque style by the Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli.

The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

The Russian Museum houses the second most important, after the Tretyakov Gallery, collection of Russian art. Set up in 1895 in St. Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Palace, it exhibits icons, paintings, and the richest collections of Russian sculpture, graphic arts and crafts. In particular, it has a fine collection of Russian art of the 18th and early 19th centuries, including works of Rokotov, Levitsky, Borovikovsky, Kiprensky, Venetsianov, Bryullov, Ivanov, and Fedotov. Some of the best paintings by the 19th centurty masters, such as Surikov and Repin, are also on display. The Soviet art section has the biggest collections of works by Rylov, Petrov-Vodkin, Golubkina, and Mukhina.


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