Adventure in the Hermitage

The Hermitage Museum is so large that it would take years to view it in its entirety. There are over 3 million works of art on exhibit, and just imagine how much art is stored away. So obviously I can’t show you the entire museum. Instead I wanted to take you along on my journey as I get lost in the museum and try to find my way out.

First off, take a look at my post from a few weeks ago. There I showed off an assortment of pictures of the Hermitage and other spots as well. Or after reading this post, go back and see more of my time in St. Petersburg starting here.

Alright, let’s embark!

Last time I went to the Hermitage, I explored most of its palace interior. So, I wanted to begin my trip by seeing some paintings. My goal was the 18th century French art exhibit, but yours truly is terrible with directions. Instead I found myself in a chapel whose walls were embroidered with gold, whose ceiling was a masterpiece in its own right, and whose altar was sinfully gaudy.

As I walked out of the chapel, I was sure I was on the right track. With a map in hand, I knew I was going the right way. After a few minor exhibits and hallways, I entered an open room with rich, red walls lined with painting after painting. I can’t recall any of the artists or even when/where the artists came from. It’s a surreal experience to be surrounded by so much artwork in one place.

Once I circled around the room to see every painting, I lost myself again and exited through a random doorway. I entered the most elaborate hallway I’ve seen. Unlike traditional hallways in museums, that serve only as walkways between exhibits, this hallway was the exhibit. Take a look at that.

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By this point I lost all thought of 18th century France and just wandered along, wondering where I was, what I’d see next, how long I’d been in the museum, and, when the time came, how the hell I’d get out. That’s when I stumbled into (not literally, god that would be a nightmare) a statue by Michelangelo. The Michelangelo. People said Raphael could create divine, but people said Michelangelo was divine. And here I was in the presence of one of his works…alone. It was just me and a security guard or two. I was astonished. Why was no one looking at this? Sure it’s not a famous work. But still!

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Having pushed myself onward, I looked at my phone and realized I’d been in the museum for over two hours. My eyes were overwhelmed and my feet ached. I wanted to take a nap. Yet, I was far from the exit. I had entered another exhibit, which would suck me in and keep me there for another half-hour: Rembrandt. Now, I can’t say Rembrandt is my favorite artist. Dutch artists of his time had an odd obsession with portraits (probably what paid the most money), which can be quite boring, but I greatly respect Rembrandt for his treatment of texture and lighting. Last semester at Columbia University I studied many of his paintings and his techniques in said paintings. One of these was Rembrandt’s painting of Danaë. I had no idea she was in the Hermitage, but she gave me a pleasant surprise.

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I looked at my phone again. Okay, now I really needed to go. I still had homework to do, I would probably be late for dinner, and I didn’t know if I had time to take a well-needed nap. Yet, lo and behold, I was now in a hall of extraordinary statues. Ugh, so beautiful.

Forcing myself onward, I followed an exit sign and headed downstairs…into another room of statues, most of which were from ancient Greece. Thousands of years old. I had to show some appreciation. I stopped, looked around. Oh, hey Zeus!

That’s it. Final straw. I’m getting out of here! So much art. So much beauty. My eyes wanted to see it all. But no. It was time to go.

…and then I walked into an exhibit of ancient Egyptian artifacts. “No. Be strong, Andrew,” I thought. “You have to go.” I pushed ahead, glancing around with a struggling restraint. Ooh! A mummy!

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After three hours, with one final picture, I said goodbye. Until next time my dear Hermitage.

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