You Are Invited to a Festival Dedicated to the Year of Cinema

Discover European Cinema in the Hermitage

On September 24, 2016 the annual Discover Your Europe in the Hermitage Festival will take place in the Hermitage dedicated to the Year of Cinema in Russia and timed for European Languages Day.

The Festival Program this year offers visitors to walk along the fascinating routes of a quest and visit the Cultures Fair. Two routes of the game/journey will lead the Festival’s guests through the exhibitions of the General Staff Building and Winter Palace. The quest’s questions connect the masterpieces of fine art kept in the Hermitage with the history of European cinema, the nominations of famous film festivals, and European languages in an unexpected way. It will allow guests not only to encounter the works from the museum’s collection again, but also think about the wealth and multifaceted elements of the art of cinema, combining various kinds of work while simultaneously encountering famous facts from the history of cinema and the time before its birth.

The Cultures Fair will be held in the Eastern Wing of the General Staff Building, the entrance to which will be free for all. Diplomatic representatives and cultural institutes of European countries will take part in the Fair. They will introduce visitors to their countries’ history of cinema and best films. All those interested will have a unique opportunity on this day to walk along and be photographed on the red carpet, watch classic as well as new films, concert performances, and a play based on Homer’s The Iliad, and go to free lessons for 10 European languages. The festival will culminate in the opportunity to take part in an interactive set right in the courtyards of the General Staff Building, which the Hermitage volunteers will do for one day. All guests of the festival will be able to try themselves out as an actor, sound editor, lighting assistant, or camera operator. Film and theater professionals will share their secrets at a master class on makeup, acting, and choreography. A new imagining of Romeo and Juliet will be filmed as a result of the one-day express filming.

The State Hermitage Volunteer Service, the School Center Scientific Methodical Department of the Hermitage, the Representation of the EU in Russia, and the general consulates and cultural institutes of the EU member-states are taking part in the Festival’s organization.

More information about the festival can be found on the State Hermitage site.

Welcome to our new website!

We are glad to present you the new website of the Volunteer Service!  Our diligent student volunteers took the task to invest their whole technical knowledge and creative talent in shape and color of the website for weeks to create an entirely new design. The advantage of our new website? Next to the optics the ease of control and clarity of the content got improved. Now you can faster and better inform yourself about our upcoming, current and past projects.

The new website is the result of a collective project. Responsible for the implementation of our new website were Jessica Ju, Chanda Chen and Daniel Darius from the USA. This American group of students from the Stony Brook University under the coordination of Olga Belichenko  from the Summer School of St Petersburg State University worked on this project for one month. We would like to thank Olga Belichenko for the successful collaboration! Tim Bernhard from Switzerland continued the project and took over the final implementation. From the side of the Hermitage Volunteers the project was curated also by our long time volunteer and site administrator Sergey Tyulenev.

On behalf of the entire team of the Volunteer Service we would like to thank all participants for their work and engagement!

16-17 July. VK fest – 2016

VK Fest is the festival of Russia and Eurasia’s largest social network. The festival will feature music, innovation, sport, and culture, and the Hermitage will be present to promote the Hermitage high tech Storage Center in Staraya Derevnya. The Volunteer Service is working to provide interactive activities, such as treasure hunts and mini excavations, demonstrate restorations, a fashion show of historical costumes, an ancient Greek master class, and photo-shoots.

The State Hermitage Museum took part in the VKfest for the second year in a row, and it was a great success!

We were glad to take this chance to present hands on activities and connect to our Saint Petersburgians on a more intimate level.

Our aim was to promote the Staraya Derevnya high tech Storage and Restoration Center which is one of the most innovative in depositories being both an interactive space complete with guided tours as well as an institution that works hard to preserve and restore with the most innovative technologies available.

We had many activities to create a more hands on experience in things like transferring images of petroglyphs, as well a lecture and demonstration on the first photography techniques, a lecture on the most grand Masquerade Ball of 1903 complete with coloring pages and cut out dolls, and a lecture on the state of the art technology used in the Storage Center in Staraya Derevnya.

Both the Saturday and Sunday that this festival took place we had a lot of activities to partake in. Both days featured photo shoots with mid 19th to early 20th century dress, especially made for this occasion. A Magical Test created to uncover the ideal movie to watch immediately, in the same day which earned you a certificate and invitation in one to the upcoming “Discover Your Europe in the Hermitage” Festival the 24th of September, in honor of The Year of Film 2016. The open storage system of this Depository is proud to announce the opening of their archeological collection of antique statuary. In honor of that, an ancient Greek master class took place with the presence of ancient Greek goddesses and gods to help teach the Sirtaki to anyone who wanted to learn.

Computer design “Palmyra: Breathing Life!” contest awards

On the 28th May 2016 the award ceremony for the participants and winners of children’s computer graphics and animation design competition “Palmyra: Breathing Life!” was held in the public forum of the General Staff Building of the State Hermitage. The contest was held in celebration of Syria Day and Yemen Day at the Hermitage.

Photo album:

Palmyra is a beautiful green oasis in the endless hot sands of the Syrian Desert. Two thousand years ago, at the beginning of the Common Era, it was one of the most beautiful and richest cities in the Middle East. In 2015, numerous monuments of the ancient city, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, were destroyed.

On the first floor of the Main Staff Building 24 photographs from the collection «Syria. Architectural masterpieces of the past» by Alexander Dymnikov, member of the Union of Photographers of Russia, were presented. The photographs, taken in 2009, show a more peaceful Syria, filled with cultural monuments which survived millennia and have been lost in recent years.

General Director of the State Hermitage, Mikhail Piotrovsky, began the celebration. The best works of the contest, which was dedicated to the culture and history of Palmyra, were awarded prizes and certificates. Students in the age range of 7 to 16 years old who participated in the series of lectures and special session organized at the Hermitage dedicated to the history and art of Palmyra, presented their works on the themes such as «East meets West», «Two Queens», «Palmyra and Northern Palmyra», «Sad cases of destruction of cultural heritage in history», «Architecture of Palmyra», «History of the new opening of Palmyra», «Gods and beliefs», «Palmyra in art», and «Reconstruction of the life of the multinational population of Palmyra».

The contest winners are:

«Animation and Video»:

  • Evgenii Dubenkov

«Computer graphics»:

  • 1st place – Alisa Sinitsyn
  • 2nd place – Ksenia Kondarschuk
  • 3rd place – Veronika Ankudinova


  • 1st place – Irina Kozlova
  • 2nd place – Angelina Schemelina
  • 3rd place – Ksenia Petrova

After the awarding of certificates, exciting workshops allowed children, their parents and teachers to experience the atmosphere of ancient Palmyra. In the masterclass «The gods of Palmyra» CME of the «School Centre» Irina V. Dyubanova introduced students to ancient traditions, according to which participants painted the tympanum of the Bel Temple, the entire sculpture, bas-reliefs and architectural details of the buildings in bright colours as well as learning about the composition of the Bel Temple.

Children also had the opportunity to play the computer game «Palmyra market» dedicated to Palmyra tariff duties stored in the Hermitage since 1903. Furthermore, they could make their own model of the Temple of Bel out of paper and they were allowed to take it home with them, as well as painting plaster statues of the lion goddess al-Lat; both of them are destroyed monuments in Palmyra. These gifts will long remind students about the fragility and value of the cultural heritage of mankind. The employees of the «School Centre» helped to conduct master classes.

The festival was attended by Waddah al-Jundi, co-chair of the Russian-Syrian Cooperative. He noted that the «Day of Syria», coincided with the celebration of St. Petersburg City Day. Once again this proves that it is not in vain that St. Petersburg is called the Northern Palmyra. Mr. al-Jundi said «he hoped that the holding of “Syria Day” at the Hermitage will become an annual event and urged the two nations to cooperate».

The special atmosphere was created by the performance of the dance «Dedication to Palmyra» by participant of the contest Ksenia Petrova and the costumes of the inhabitants of Palmyra (Eastern, Greek, and Roman). They were made especially for this event by both the volunteers and the experienced master of theatrical costume designer, Irina Georgievna Etoev. The holiday program was led by Head of the Volunteer Service Mikhail Kozhukhovskiy, in the magnificent costume of King Odaenathus.

At the end of the event, on the floor of the Main Staff Building, participants of the competition were able to put together a giant puzzle with a map of Palmyra. They also managed to find all the main attractions of the city on the map, and to pick up images and descriptions for them. The final piece was the installation of the model of the Temple of Bel on the puzzle, Palmyra’s main temple.

Contests of computer graphics and animation for schoolchildren have been organised and conducted over 10 years by the Volunteer Service and in the cooperation with the Scientific and Methodological Department «School Centre» of the State Hermitage. Works of participants of the contest «Palmyra: Breathing life!» were presented at the international festival «Intermuseum» (in Moscow, 13 – 16 May 2016) and «Night of the Museums 2016» in the Hermitage’s Storage and Restoration Centre, «Staraya Derevnya».

21st May 2016. «Palmyra: breathing life!» The State Hermitage’s project for «Night of Museums»

On 21 May 2016 the State Hermitage took part in the yearly event «Night of Museums». The special interactive program «Palmyra: breathing life!», dedicated to the cultural heritage of Palmyra, took place in the Restoration and Storage Centre in «Staraya Derevnya».

The program of events, prepared by the Hermitage volunteer service, included colourful theatrical performances and workshops, all of which allowed guests to be immersed in the atmosphere of ancient Palmyra.

The evening began with a welcome from Mikhail Piotrovsky, the general director of the State Hermitage. He highlighted the importance of the restoration and conservation of the world’s cultural heritage: «Palmyra is an ancient city, which has been destroyed many times, yet has turned out to be impossible to truly destroy».

A multitude of activities awaited guests in the lobby of the Restoration and Storage Centre. Visitors participated in workshops on painting, drawing, decorating Greek vases, making theatrical masks, costumes and laurel wreaths, and learned useful phrases in Greek and Aramaic. A workshop on ancient Greek dance, which took place with Palmyrene costumes, brought guests together in a lively circle dance.

Visitors were encouraged to play the computer game «Palmyrene Market», to put together a model of the temple Bel, and to decorate plaster models of the lion goddess al-Lat – all of which are destroyed monuments from Palmyra.

There was also a concert of Greek music, in which guests listened to the sound of an authentic eight-stringed lyre, which was the most popular instrument of antiquity. This lyre was given to the Hermitage last year by Terpandros, a Cyprian ensemble who play music from antiquity. Dimitris Dimitriou, the Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus in St. Petersburg, visited the Hermitage project «Night of Museums», and was delighted to hear the sound of that unique instrument on an evening dedicated to Palmyra. In the open storage of the Department of Antiquity, musicians played on other instruments from ancient Greece – the cithara and the pan-flute.

The guest of the evening was Waddah al-Jundi, chairman of the Russian-Syrian cooperation. He expressed his great gratitude for the organisation of the project, describing it as ‘like a bridge connecting our cultures’.

Irina Dyubanova, the Head of the Hermitage School Centre, gave a lecture on the history and art of Palmyra. Visitors were also guided on tours along the open storage route in the Restoration and Storage Centre.

The most active participants in the workshops and competitions were awarded certificates and memorable prizes. At the end of the evening the temple Bel – the main temple of Palmyra – was set up on the assembled puzzle map of Palmyra.

The State Hermitage has been taking part in «Night of Museums» since 2009. This year, the program «Palmyra: breathing life!» was visited by around 700 guests.

16th May 2016. Hermitage Volunteers take part in the festival «Intermuseum», in Moscow.

Photo album:
Hermitage Volunteers take part in the festival «Intermuseum»

From 13th to 16th May 2016 the State Museum took part in the 16th international festival «Intermuseum» in the Central exhibition hall «Manage» in Moscow. This year, more than 300 Russian and foreign museums took part in the festival.

The theme of «Intermuseum 2016» is «Museums without borders». The main aim of the festival this year is to bring attention to museums as important instruments as spaces for intercultural dialogues, their social mission. In the «Museum town» state and private, big and small museums joined together. For the first time, amongst the Russian museums, Chinese and Iranian museums took part in the festival. Former Soviet Union countries Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Belarus had museums stands.

Over the four days of the festival, around 35 000 people visited.

The State Hermitage’s Stand

The theme of the State Hermitage’s stand in the 2016 festival was «The Museum at the Crossroads of Culture; between the past and future», linking two important themes for the Hermitage. Firstly, the museum as a centre of cultural life: part of the hermitage’s programme at the festival was dedicated to the General Staff Building, the modern museum complex, its expositions, exhibition halls and also the project «Hermitage 20/21». Other parts of the programme talked about the Hermitage as a curator of the cultural treasure of the past – Yemen and Palmyra. «It is the case that the Ark of the General Staff Building is exactly as the ark in Palmyra was, joining together two different cardinal directions… St Petersburg is not only called the “Northern Palmyra” but we also have an architectural similarity», says Mikhail Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage.

In the «Palmyran» zone, people could play an interactive computer game «Palmyran market», which was created from the foundation text from the famous Palmyran customs tariff, preserved by the Hermitage. The game gives a representation of things that were traded in Palmyra and allows the user an immersion in antiquity.

Here also you could see a holographic representation of Palmyran monuments. The following historical objects were restored with help from 3D modelling: a sculpture of the lion goddess Al-Lat (beginning of the 1st Century CE), the Temple of Baalshamin (131 CE), the Temple of Bel (32 CE), the tower-tomb of Yambliha (end of 1st Century BCE) and the Triumphal Arc of the emperor (end of 1st Century CE).

Moreover, every day the stand «reconstructed» the Temple of Bel; a near exact copy of the main temple of Palmyra was created at a scale of 1:100.

The most popular game was «Be first in the General Staff Building». Children and adults happily researched the Hermitage’s new space.

The special glasses to watch 360 degree videos enjoyed great success. Specialists from ITMO, according to the initiative by Yuri Molodkovits, prepared a panoramic video with works from the Palmyran hall in 360 degree. This new technology allows us to change the point of view of the video, in this case, to see the Pavilion hall from floor to ceiling, and also showing the inside of the «Peacock clock» display case.

On the first 3 days of the festival there was an online broadcast from the General Staff Building. On the first day they showed the interactive trip on the theme «The General Staff Building for the public: exhibitions and permanent expositions in the General Staff Building». The second day was linked with work from the Youth centre of the State Hermitage, which works with students on different educational projects. The third day discussed the history, architecture and restoration of the General Staff Building.

Business Programme

Besides working on the stand, employees from the Hermitage took part in the festival’s business programme.

The main event of the first day was a round table – «Museums are defends of cultural legacies and historical memories», organized by the State Hermitage. The theme for discussion became part of the Russian museum community for the revival of Syrian monuments.

On the 14th May, Irina Dyubanova, manager of the «School Centre», talked about her experiences working with special guests at the Hermitage- special projects for people with autism spectrum disorders.

The next day, Anna Terenteva, deputy head of the «Restoration and Storage Centre Staraya Derevnya», shared her experience working with the blind and visually impaired on the project «The Past at your Fingertips».

Mikhail Kozhuhovsky, head of the Volunteer Service, talked about the projects of the Hermitage’s Volunteer Service on 16th May.

Children’s Programme

For children, the Hermitage prepared different activities in the Masterclass zone and in the Children’s square of the «Intermuseum 2016» festival. Visitors could make models of the sculpture of the lion Al-Lat, destroyed in Palmyra, and paint them. There was also the game «Make a Palmyra» – everyone who wished to could build a paper model of the Temple of Bel and take it as a souvenir.

Participants in the masterclass «A Monogram of Catherine II» created their own monograms for fancy suits. The masterclass for young children was dedicated to the history of craft art, in particular jewellery making.

Another masterclass was dedicated to French courtly art, lessons which were inspired by State Hermitage museum collections of the ceramics of Bernar Palissi. Participants could decorate small plates, using different artistic techniques.


Announcement of projects dedicated to the cultural heritage of Palmyra

Presentation of the computer graphics and animation competition: «Palmyra: Breathing Life!»

On April 16 2016, in the State Hermitage there was a presentation of projects and events dedicated to the culture and history of Palmyra. The event was designed and organised by the Sector through the work of volunteers in conjunction with HMO «School Centre» for the International Day of Monuments and Historical Places.

For the last ten years the Sector, through work with volunteers together with the School Centre of the Sate Hermitage, has organized and carried out computer graphics and animation competitions for schoolchildren. This year the theme of the competition was Palmyra. Volunteers announced the computer graphics and animation competition «Palmyra: Breathing life!», which schoolchildren of all ages can participate in.

The School Centre hosted a lecture by the head of the School Centre, I. V. Dyubanov, about the history and art of Palmyra. In the exhibition, which presented the famous Palmyra tax law, special activities took place. Participants received tasks for the competition «Palmyra: Breathing Life» and other informative materials regarding the preparation and carrying out of the «Intermuseum» festival, the «Night of the Museums» event and the «Days of Syria» programme.

Volunteers of the State Hermitage created a number of interactive games for the yearly exhibition of the Union of Russian Museums «Intermuseum 2016» in Moscow, for the traditional «Night of the Museums», and for «Days of Syria», which will take place at the Hermitage in May. The interactive games include a model of the temple Bela, a plaster model of the famous statue of the Lion Goddess Al Lat, and a puzzle map of ancient Palmyra. All of these models will be displayed in an unassembled way, so that visitors can take part in their construction. The theatre, which played an important role in the life of Ancient Palmyra, will not be overlooked. There will be theatrical presentations at «Night of the Museums» in the Restoration and Storage Centre of the Hermitage, with specially created decorations and costumes. Special attention should also be given to the holograms of the lost monuments of Palmyra and the computer game «Palmyra’s Market», created by a volunteer from Italy, Luca Otonello.

An important part of the program was a visit to the palace of Prince Abamelik Lazarev – the first to discover the tax stone from Palmyra, which is now located in the collection of the State Hermitage. The visit was organized for Hermitage volunteers by the All Russian Society of Preservation of Historical Monuments and Culture, and by the Committee for State Control, Use and Protection of Historical Monuments, in honour of the International Day of Monuments and Historical Places.

Day of the Cosmonauts at the State Hermitage: 12 April 2016

The Hermitage marked the fifty fifth anniversary of man’s first flight into space.

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«Fifty five years ago an event took place which people could only have dreamed of happening. The sky, inhabited by gods and radiant with constellations was conquered by man for the first time! The name of this hero is comparable with the names of the great heroes of antiquity and will be preserved throughout the centuries». With these words the quest game ‘Legends of the Cosmos’ began, created for the Day of the Cosmonauts.

The twelfth of April 2016 marked fifty five years from the day of the first flight of man into space. On this day the spaceship «Vostok» was launched into orbit by the Soviet Union. On board that ship was the first cosmonaut in human history – Yuri Gagarin. The State Hermitage celebrated this monumental day with a travelling game, inviting all willing participants to take part in the quests «Legends of the Cosmos» and «Signs of the Zodiac».

«Today you will visit halls which commemorate Yuri Gagarin. They are filled with man’s myths and dreams about the sky. Here, whilst admiring extraordinary artistic masterpieces, you can test your knowledge of astronomy and mythology».

The quest’s tasks highlighted the connection between exhibits from the State Hermitage collection with mythology and the cosmos. The event enabled the visitors to become closer acquainted with sculptures from antiquity, and with paintings from various countries, and to find out new and unexpected information about the planets and the constellations. Thanks to this, every participant was able to discover the Universe of the Hermitage and to enjoy works of art.

Everyone, after successfully completing the quest, received a lovely test as a gift – «Which planet are you from?».

On that day, the work of the students of the Drawing Studio School Centre of the Hermitage was shown on screens in the halls: photoreports from the exhibitions dedicated to the cosmos, pictures taken on the 12th April 1961 in Palace Square in Leningrad, and, of course, videos featuring the first cosmonaut hero of the USSR, Yuri Gagarin.

The event was designed, organised and directed by the Sector through work with volunteers together with the School Centre of the State Hermitage.

«¡BUENOS DIAS, ARGENTINA!» Celebration At The «STARAYA DEREVNYA» Restoration And Storage Centre Of The State Hermitage Museum

19 March 2016, «Staraya Derevnya» Restoration and Storage Centre

On the 19th March 2016, the State Hermitage concludes the «Year of Argentinian Culture in Russia» with an evening of celebration at the «Staraya Derevnya» Restoration and Storage Centre. During 2015, Hermitage volunteers prepared and hosted an extensive cultural programme celebrating Argentina, including a musical presentation of «Tango – the Soul of Argentina» as part of the Night of Museums festival. Visitors were able to attend special concerts and lectures on Argentinian music and participate in numerous competitions as well as dance masterclasses on the tango and the «Hermitage milonga».

The evening’s celebration will open with greetings from Yulia Kantor, the head of the Historical-informational service of the State Hermitage, and from Argentinian Ambassador Pablo Anselmo Tettamanti.

The most important part of the event is the awards ceremony for the «¡Buenos Dias, Argentina!» digital art and animation competition. Children in grades 1-11 created designs based on various themes introducing them to Argentinian history, nature, and culture: «My virtual travels or the seven wonders of Argentina», «Adventures in Patagonia or the amazing animals and plants of Argentina», «Small discoveries that changed the whole world», «Famous Argentinians: Secrets of Success». There were three evaluation-nomination categories: computer drawings and design, multimedia presentations, and computer animation and video. In all, around 70 schoolchildren participated in the competition.

A wide variety of activities and competitions are also on the evening’s programme, including face painting and masterclasses on Argentinian cuisine and the traditional dance «chacarera», as well as the tango.

Hermitage Volunteers and the Abolition of Serfdom

Hermitage Volunteers and the Abolition of Serfdom

On 3 March 2016, the Historical-Information Service of the State Hermitage Museum organised a special excursion for St. Petersburg and regional journalists in honour of two important dates in Russia’s history: the 155th anniversary of the abolition of serfdom and the 135th anniversary of the assassination of Alexander II, Russia’s «Tsar-Liberator».

Hermitage volunteers prepared research material and provided excerpts from different countries’ 1861 newspapers describing the reactions of these countries to the emancipation of the serfs in Russia. This material is available below.

A special five-hour excursion was organised for the journalists, including visits to four important local sites for these two historical events. Museum representatives provided lively retellings and organised unique exhibitions for the occasion.

The excursion began in the Grand Church of the Hermitage Museum, where the Head of the Historical-Information Service of the Hermitage, Yulia Zorakhovna Kantor, opened the event with a welcome speech. Three rare artefacts were on display specifically for the occasion: the watercolour painting, «Palace Square, 19th February 1861», a souvenir mug from the 50th anniversary of the emancipation reforms with quotations from the Emancipation Manifesto about the abolition of serfdom, and a commemorative medal «In memory of the freeing of Russia’s peasants from serfdom» in 1861. Additionally, journalists could observe the jacket worn by Tsar Alexander II on the day of his assassination.

Excursion participants were then shown the private rooms of the emperor in the Winter Palace, including his bedroom, where the Tsar spent his last breathing moments.

After their visit to the Winter Palace, journalists relocated to the Peter and Paul Fortress across the Neva River. Here, journalists saw copies of the Emancipation Manifesto as well as commemorative medals and drawings in which serfs thank their gracious Tsar for their new freedom. Participants visited the Peter and Paul Cathedral, in which members of the royal family, including Tsar Alexander II, are buried. The guide shared details of the Tsar’s funeral ceremony, which took place in the cathedral.

The group then visited the Museum of Political History, where the museum representative focused on the numerous assassination attempts on Tsar Alexander II.

As a conclusion for the event, the group of journalists visited the Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood, which was built as a chapel-monument directly on the site of the assassination of Alexander II.

Participants were able to directly and meaningfully encounter the historical events from the period of Tsar Alexander II’s reign thanks to the broad, well-structured excursion programme.

The materials gathered from 1861 Russian and foreign newspapers by Hermitage volunteers from Russia, Italy, Great Britain, the United States, and Germany allowed the journalists to learn not only about historical events in Russia, but also about the worldwide reactions to these events. These materials can be downloaded here.

For me, as a foreign student, the excursion became one of many wonderful, memorable moments while working at the Volunteer Service of the Hermitage, and the event was extremely informative. I especially appreciated the narrations of the guides who introduced me to both the light and dark sides of Russian history in an enthralling way.

As the event organisers noted, excursion participants were able to «experience history with their eyes, ears, hands, and legs».

Inna Kerasi, Hermitage Intern, 2016