«¡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

10th December 2015. Volunteers wished Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage Museum, Happy Birthday! Congratulations could be heard in a variety of a languages, but the most delicious of all was etched, in Armenian, into crust of the pie!

Photo reportage:
10th December 2015. Volunteers wished Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage Museum, Happy Birthday!

On 5 December 2015, Hermitage Volunteers Celebrated Their Occupational Holiday

When the Volunteer Service at the State Hermitage was founded in 2003, the museum began the tradition of celebrating International Volunteer Day.

Every year on 5 December, the museum honors its gracious helpers by presenting them with a celebratory program.

This year, the event was held in the Restoration-Storage Center “Staraya Derevnya.” At the beginning of the ceremony, volunteers warmly acknowledged the deputy director of the State Hermitage V.U. Matveev, who has curated and supported the volunteer service program since its inception at the Hermitage. In his speech, Director of the Historico-Informational service, Iu.Z. Kantor called the volunteers the museum’s “Ministry of Special Occasions.” In the spring of 2015, the museum instituted a separate department for volunteer work with M.Iu. Kozhukhovsky at its head. The speakers also thanked the ceremony’s honorees for their help in the realization of the numerous special projects during 2015.

The Restoration-Storage Centre gave the volunteers an exciting excursion in two languages. At the culmination of the ceremony, the best volunteers of 2015, representing more than 10 countries, were given awards. They each received certificates and commemorative gifts.

On the threshold of the New Year and as an introduction to 2016 as the Year of Film in Russia, a selection of short films showing the Hermitage through the eyes of its volunteers were presented to the volunteers and other guests of the event, among them volunteer organizations from Moscow. Volunteers in different countries had sent in recorded video-messages with congratulations and warm wishes in several languages that were also played at the celebration.

In addition to the amazing jazz atmosphere provided by the concert put together by Evgeny Solovyev, Liubov Ivanova prepared delicious Bashkir national dishes.

Volunteers of the Hermitage celebrate their occupational holiday

Regarding the tragic events of autumn 2015…

The Volunteer Service is an organisation where citizens from various countries, hailing from all corners of the globe, come together to work in harmony. For them, there are no borders, and people’s convictions are not obstacles, but add to the richness of the cultural melting pot which is the organisation; nor are there any imagined conflicts. Sadly, this is not the case everywhere. This cruelty and brutality is incomprehensible in the eyes of the Volunteer Service. Those who see beauty, cannot fathom the destruction of such history and wonder! Those who know how to love, cannot comprehend the inhumanity!

Grief has no nationality; and sorrow has no borders…


20-21 November 2015. Hermitage Volunteers Represent 15 Countries at the 4th Volunteer Forum “Dobroforum 2015” in St. Petersburg.

The 4th Annual Volunteer Forum “Dobroforum 2015” was held on 20 and 21 November 2015. Per tradition, the State Hermitage sent a team of international volunteers as a delegation to the forum. The 24 Hermitage volunteers representing 15 countries not only colorfully described their work at the Hermitage, but also shared about their experiences in the volunteer sector in their own countries, participating in workshops and in lively discussions about different ways of running volunteer work. The Head of the Volunteer Service, Mikhail Kozhukhovsky, gave a presentation about the increase in the qualifications of volunteers and about his methods of training them, based on his many years of experience working at the State Hermitage.

The Volunteer Service, created at the Hermitage in 2003 in honor of the 300-year anniversary of St. Petersburg, today constitutes one of the oldest volunteer organizations in Russia.

The projects of 2015 have been bright highlights in the cultural fabric of life in St. Petersburg, and the Volunteer Sector at the State Hermitage was once again nominated for the most “Effective Volunteerism,” a designation which it has received each year consecutively since 2013.

Governor of St. Petersburg Georgii Sergeevich Poltavchenko opened the forum with words of support for the participants. The Head of the Federal Agency for Youth Engagement, S.V. Pospelov, and the Chairman of the Committee for Youth Politics in Saint Petersburg, R.Iu. Abdulina spoke about the important role of volunteerism, and together with delegations from volunteer unions and chairpersons of city and federal regions participated in various sectors of the forum.

“Dobroforum” 20-21 November 2015

The II All-Russian Volunteer Forum. “Cultural volunteering”.

The II All-Russian Volunteer Forum took place in Moscow on the 3rd and 4th of November, 2015.

At the forum of active citizens “Community,” more than 3,500 representatives of non-profit organizations, civic activists, volunteers, and representatives of businesses and government agencies from all over Russia gathered in Moscow. Never in the modern history of Russia has the subject of volunteering, and the civil activism associated with it, been given attention at such a high level.

On the third of November, honorary guests, representatives of federal authorities, and regional leaders visited different work sites relating to eight areas of volunteering: social, medical, event-focused, cultural, corporate, inclusive, Victory volunteering, and emergency volunteering. All of the participants were able to learn the stories of successfully completed projects in the fields of volunteering and patriotic education, projects by the largest NGO’s, and were also able to participate in dozens of workshops and discussions on interactive platforms.

Since 2003, the State Hermitage Museum has actively participated in the development of the volunteer movement. Because of this, the organization and supervision of “Cultural Volunteering” was entrusted to volunteer director M. Y. Kozhukhovsky.

Mikhail Kozhukhovsky moderated a discussion on the “Role of Volunteering in Culture and Educational Activities”, which several distinguished guests attended. The guests included the Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky, Advisor of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Tolstoy, Director of Museum of Contemporary History of Russia Irina Velikanova, and representatives from museums, artistic associations, and volunteer organizations. While speaking about the role of volunteer groups, the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Medinsky, stated that the Agency intends to help volunteers in organizing cultural activities throughout the country. During this event, representatives of the state participated in lively and heated discussions. The Presidential Cultural Advisor, Vladimir Ilych Tolstoy, expressed concern over the dangerous precedent set by the arrest of a library director in Moscow and expressed his hope that professionals will not suffer because of their professional activities.

As a result of the productive discussions at this site, as well as the work of the different groups there, proposals for development and volunteering in cultural and educational activities were collected and a draft was then prepared by those present to be sent to the federal authorities and presented to the President.

On the 4th of November a ceremony took place to award prizes in several categories to the best volunteers in the country: “Promotion” – for contribution to the development of event volunteering; “Mercy” – for contribution to the development of medical volunteering; “Enlightenment” – for contribution to the development of cultural volunteering in emergencies; and the special nomination “Victory-70” – for the contribution to preserving the historical memory of the country.

To recognize the importance of volunteer work, and active citizens, the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, arrived on the 4th of November, National Unity Day.

“It’s very important for any country and any people, and especially for a country as diverse as Russia, with its multiethnic and multi-religious composition, to remember what triumphs and tragedies occurred and when. If we look at the history of our country, we see that when we were united, we always achieved brilliant victories. Therefore, it is important to be aware of ourselves as one people, despite the diversity of our country”, – said Putin, congratulating all the participants on the holiday. In his speech, the President spoke about the need to support public organizations, noting “they better understand the people and more effectively handle the needs and requirements of them than government organizations.” Addressing the representatives of the non-governmental organizations, volunteer movements, as well as youth and student associations of the country, Vladimir Putin expressed his gratitude for their work, which made an impact “in his heart”.