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Permanent Collection - The State Hermitage Museum

The main departments of the Museum are as follows:

The Department of Western European Art

This has been the largest and most important section of the Hermitage collection from the time of Catherine the Great's first purchases onwards. It acquired its present name after the fine and decorative arts collections were combined in 1930 and curates 7,869 paintings, 2,100 sculptures, more than 525,000 prints and drawings, and 60,000 examples of the decorative arts, including silver, porcelain and furniture. Among the most famous features of the department are the Rembrandts (more than 20 works) and the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist pictures - including Picasso and Matisse - from the former Shchukin and Morosov collections. There are also paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian and Giorgione among other Italian masters, a superb collection of 17th century Dutch and Flemish paintings and the best collection of French art outside the Louvre.

The Oriental Department
The first new department to be created after the Revolution, it was established in 1920, under the direction of the future Museum director, Iosif Orbeli. Exhibits were gathered from institutions all over Russia representing the cultures of Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Byzantium, Iran, Central Asia, the Caucasus, China, Japan and India. The Sassanian silver collection is world famous, as are the collections of Coptic textiles and Persian carpets. The scholarly publications of the department have won it a world wide reputation.

The Department of Russian Culture

Opened in 1941, this department curates Russian works of art from the 6th to the 20th centuries. It has portrait paintings and views associated with the imperial family and their palaces. (The Russian Museum contains St Petersburg's main collection of Russian painting.) There are superb products of the Imperial Porcelain, Glass and Tapestry Factories. The costume collection runs to tens of thousands of items, including clothes worn by the imperial family from the 18th century onwards. An unique feature of the collection is steel furniture made at the arms factories of Tula in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

The Department of the Art and Culture of Antiquity

This department curates art and artefacts from the Greek and Roman civilisations and has formed a major section of the Museum since it first opened to the public in 1852. Peter the Great and Catherine both bought important antique sculpture. From the early 19th century, excavations of Greek settlements around the Black Sea area yielded jewellery and vases and, together with the purchase of Greek vases from the Campana collection in 1862, have ensured that the Museum has a superlative collection.

The Department of the archaeology of Eastern Europe and Siberia

Founded in 1931, the department has organised archaeological excavations all over Russia and the former republics and curates finds dating from Palaeolithic times up to the Bronze and early Iron Ages. Its special treasures include the so-called 'Siberian Collection of Peter the Great', magnificent gold and silverware of the Scythian and Samartian civilisations, and the rich, 5th-7th century BC textiles, felt, leather, furs, elegantly carved wooden artefacts and even tattooed human skin, found in tombs in the high Altai mountains, whose contents were uniquely preserved by permafrost.

The Numismatic Department

Catherine the Great was a keen collector of coins and medals and her extensive collection is the foundation of the present collection. The department now owns over a million items which represent one of the world's largest collections in the field. It ranges across Antique, Western European, Russian and Oriental items.

The Arsenal

Nicholas I was a passionate collector of antiquarian arms and armour which he kept in a special pavilion in the park of Tsarskoe Selo. In 1885 his collection was transferred to the Hermitage and combined with the collection of Alexander Petrovich Basilevsky, recently purchased in Paris, to form one of the most important collections in the world. There are works of European, Russian and Oriental workmanship, as well as a group of magnificent Colt pistols from America made for presentation to Nicholas I and his sons.

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