The State Russian Museum (until 1917 "the Russian Museum of the Emperor Alexander III») is the largest museum of Russian art in the world. It is located in the central part of St. Petersburg. The modern Russian Museum is a complex museum ensemble. The main exposition of the museum occupies five buildings: the Mikhailovsky Palace (the main building of the museum) with the exhibitions in the Benois Wing, the Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle, The Marble Palace, the Stroganov Palace and the Summer Palace of Peter I. The museum also includes the Mikhailovsky Garden, the Summer Garden, the Mikhailovsky Garden and the Cabin of Peter I on the Petrovsky quay and several other buildings. The Museum director is Vladimir Gusev. As for January 1, 2015 the collection of the Russian Museum has numbered 410,945 units. This includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, coins, arts and crafts and folk art, as well as archival materials.
The Hermitage was established in 1764 as a private collection of Catherine II, after she had got from Berlin 317 valuable paintings (according to other sources, there were only 225) worth of 183,000 thalers from the private art collection of Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky (Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky, 1710-1775), on account of his debt to Prince Vladimir Sergeyevich Dolgoruky. There were paintings by such masters as Dirck van Baburen, Hendrick van Balen, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, Jacob Jordaens, Anthony van Dyck, Hendrik Goltzius, Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Gerard van Honthorst and other works of mostly Dutch school of the first half of XVII century. From the 228 paintings, sent to Russia in 1764, now at least 96 paintings are kept in the Hermitage. Initially, most of the paintings were located in secluded apartments of the palace (now the Small Hermitage). Subsequently, the apartments were called the "Hermitage".
In 1769 in Dresden a rich collection of the Saxon Minister Count Brühl, numbering around 600 paintings was purchased for the Hermitage, including Titian's landscape "Flight into Egypt", views of Dresden and Pirna by Bellotto and others.
The city tour of St. Petersburg is the best way to know a lot of its attractions. The volume of the must see things shouldn’t frighten tourists because the excursions in St. Petersburg are not tiring at all. Well, to direct the travelers to the objects that are worth considering, let me tell you about the routes that suit better for this.
Of course, there’s no need to talk about the cultural and historical value of St. Petersburg because everyone knows that founded by Peter I, for over two centuries it had been the main city of the state. Precisely because of the fact that its attractions are divided into those that are associated with the history of Russia, its culture and the Orthodox religion, St. Petersburg excursions should be classified according to the same criteria. Moreover, to make your city tour St. Petersburg, intended for a few days, the most fun, it should include sites that carry different spiritual values.
Russian Pancake Week, Russian Traditions
"Maslenitsa" is the Russian name of this holiday. It is usually celebrated during the last week before the Great Lent. Is is clearly one of the merriest feasts in Russia. Originally it was a pagan rite to celebrate the end of winter.
According to an old custom it is necessary to please Maslenitsa by all means. One of the best ways is to make and eat pancakes symbolyzing the sun. In old times, during the Pancake Week people would enatertain themselves by going tobogganing and skating, arranging snow-ball fights, storming snow fotresses.
Maslenitsa has always been a young people's holiday. Therefore, it's associated with youth and cheerfulness and marks the beginning of spring.
Nowadays the celebrations of Maslenitsa are accompanied by concerts, different contests, traditional games and ends with the symbolic ritual of burning the
stuffed figure of winter.
While on the Hermitage tour don't miss the opportunity to see the Pancake Woman by Rembrandt
Surikov "The Taking of a Snow Fortress"
Discover remarkable French paintings of the 19th-20th centuries which nobody has ever seen before on your Hermitage museum tour. They come from German private collections and only few people managed to see them exhibited. During the World War II they were hidden and then taken to the Soviet Union. In 1950 most of them were transferred back to Germany. Today the Hermitage puts on display only some of the items taken from closed Soviet deposits. For a very long time the exhibiting of these paintings was forbidden.
The regime of the country changed and with the help of The Ministry of Culture of Russia the Hermitage has an opportunity to showcase them. Though the fate of these masterpieces is not decided yet... Dozens of works by such great masters as Monet, Degas, Pissarro, Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, and others were out of sight during the time when impressionism and post-impressionism were of great interest.