PART OF the vast collection of St. Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum could be housed in Lisbon. As one of the largest and finest museums in the world, the collection is so big that there simply isn’t room to show it all at the same time in the former Imperial Tsarist capital.
Portuguese Minister of Culture Isabel Pires de Lima made an official visit to Russia’s second capital – known as the ‘Venice of the North’ because of its ice filled canals – recently to promote wider cultural co-operation between the two countries. It is likely that the items chosen for display would only remain for a year, as part of the Centenary Celebrations of the Portuguese Republic in 2010.
The Hermitage collection, begun by Peter the Great and extended by Catherine the Great in the 18th century, is the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist works of art anywhere in the world outside France.
Housed in the former Winter Palace, the museum also played a key role in the 1917 Revolutions and, during the last war, saw one of the largest evacuations of works of art and treasures in history to the safety of the Ural Mountains.
• If you would like to learn more about the museum’s history, visit www.hermitagemuseum.org