February 22, 2017: a meeting of the St. Petersburg branch of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society was held in the Council Hall of the State Hermitage Museum.
Mikhail Piotrovsky, the chairman of the St. Petersburg branch and General Director of the Hermitage, began the meeting and talked about the projects of 2016 that had been carried out by the State Hermitage and dedicated to preserving cultural and historical heritage of the Middle East countries: The Days of Syria and The Days of Yemen, conferences, educational projects and exhibitions about the Middle East and Byzantium, and also programs about the heritage of Palmyra. The activities of volunteers in this area clearly revealed in the cultural and educational program «Palmyra: Breathing Life!» that brought together more than three dozen projects, and was designed to attract the attention to the catastrophic and intentional destruction of historical and cultural monuments.
The volunteer program «Palmyra: Breathing Life!» was widely acknowledged and implemented in various projects in both the Hermitage and the Moscow international festival of museums «Intermuseum 2016». The cultural and educational program «Palmyra: Breathing Life» was presented during «The Night of Museums 2016» at the Hermitage.
This is why the nominations of the new members of the Society were proposed by Mikhail Piotrovsky and unanimously approved by the Society. The new elects were the head of the Volunteer Service Michael Kozhukhovskiy and the sculptor of the Palmyra project Maria Nikiforova. They took an active part in the development of projects dedicated to the heritage of the Middle East, with the «Palmyra: Breathing Life!» project being the main theme for the whole volunteer community with regard to cultural volunteering.
The meeting also discussed plans and anniversary events scheduled for 2017, including the Society’s 135th anniversary, the 200th anniversary of Archimandrite Antonin Kapustin (the founder of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in the Holy Land), the 160th anniversary of the Society’s first chairman, the Grand Duke Sergei Aleksandrovich (observed on May 11th), and the restoration of the Cross on the place of his death February 17, 1905.
The party and concert dedicated to these memorable events were held at the Hermitage Theatre.