Research and access are everything, says director
Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, has outlined his plans for the next decade.
Speaking at a press conference last month, Dr Piotrovsky said one of his main objectives remains that of improving public access to the Hermitage’s vast collections, of which only around five per cent is currently on display. Work continues on the “Greater Hermitage” project, the renovation of the 19th-century General Staff Building on Palace Square opposite the main museum building, which currently houses decorative arts and temporary exhibitions. The total renovation cost is estimated at around $150 million over the next 10 years. When the project is completed it will increase display space by 40,000 square-metres. About $75 million will be raised through private sponsors, a loan from the World Bank and revenue raised from loaning works and exhibitions abroad to the museum’s London and Amsterdam outposts, as well as other places such as Hiroshima. The remaining half will come from the Russian government.
The Hermitage is also trying to raise $50 million to build the second phase of its modern stores located in a separate city district, and parts of which will eventually be open to the public.
Dr Piotrovsky said another important task for the museum is to continue development of the institution’s website, which already hosts a substantial digital library of works of art, and to make a complete electronic inventory of the museum’s collection of some three million works. The cost of this is estimated at around $15 million.
Dr Piotrovsky said he aims to reduce the need for government funding of the Hermitage by finding alternative income sources to enable the museum to develop more independently. The institution’s budget in 2003 was approximately $36 million, with half that amount provided by the State.
He stressed that the museum’s main goal is its scholarship. “Do not forget that, without research, the Hermitage, or any museum, would go to ruin,” he said. Over the next decade, the museum hopes to spend $30 million on research and publications.