The Hermitage (Russian: Госуда́рственный Эрмита́ж; IPA: [gəsʊˈdarstvʲɪnɨj ɪrmʲɪˈtaʂ]) is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the largest and oldest museums of the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has been open to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display, comprise nearly three million items, including the largest collection of paintings in the world. The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors.
Catherine The Great held western European philosophies and culture close to her heart and she wanted to surround herself with like-minded people within Russia. She believed a ‘new kind of person’ could be created by inoculating Russian children with European education. Catherine believed education could change the hearts and minds of the Russian people and turn them away from backwardness. This meant developing individuals both intellectually and morally, providing them knowledge and skills, and fostering a sense of civic responsibility
Perhaps one of the most important leaders of the Russian Empire, Catherine the Second, or “The Great,” helped set the foundations for the Russian “Westernization” in the 19th and 20th centuries. Known for her intelligence and ambitions to rule the Russian Empire, Catherine not only challenged the social norms of the time but also set the precedent for women in powerful positions. Catherine ruled through corruption, scandal, political reforms, and land expansion.
Young Catherine learned to hide her true feelings and thoughts from her Pastor and Teacher. She wrote later, “One never knows what children are thinking, and children are difficult to get to know, especially when a severe education has turned them into docile listeners and they have learned from experience not to tell things to their teachers.” We should internalize “the fine maxim that one should not scold children, but put them at their ease, so that they do not hide their blunders from you.”
In its own right the reign of Catherine the Great was impressive, but it was made all the more important because she was a woman. She continued Peter the Great’s reforms of the Russian state, further increasing central control over the provinces. Her goal was to rationalize and reform the administration of the Russian Empire. One of the most prosperous periods for Russia , Catherine undertook a wide range of internal political reforms, and waged two successful wars against the Ottoman Empire and extend the borders of Russia . Her achievements played a key role in the development of Russia as a modern state not only in a political sense but also in a cultural sense. She directed the building of the Hermitage Museum . Commissioning building all over Russia , Catherine founded academies, journals, libraries, and corresponded with French Encyclopedists, including Voltaire, Diderot, and d’Alembert. Also, Catherine is notorious for her love affairs, which included Gregory Orlov and Gregor Potemkin.
Catherine The Great founded The Hermitage as one majestic place collecting the finest acivements in arts as magnificent way to conduct a spiritual dialogue between utterly different streams of human civilization. Her idea was to expose in a wonderful and misterious way the differences between the cultures as well as the similarities they share.