May 18, 2021

The Hermitage opens its collection of ancient sculptures to the public

Moscow, March 24 (EFE) .- The Hermitage of Saint Petersburg, the largest museum in Russia and one of the most important in the world, today opened to the public its fund for the conservation of ancient sculptures, made up of more than 200 pieces by masters of antiquity and reproductions of the XVII-XIX centuries.

“Museum collections must be accessible, but that accessibility is not simple but complex, and one of the ways to make works of art accessible lies in opening conservation funds to the public,” said the museum’s director Mikhail Piotrovski, during the virtual opening of the exhibition.

The works include statues, busts, torsos or fragments of torsos, statuettes of various sizes, bas-reliefs, marble vases and chandeliers.

“None of the pieces presented here has been exhibited to the public,” said the head of the Museum’s Department of Ancient Art and curator of the exhibition, Anna Trofímova.

According to the specialist, these pieces are part of the collection, where they have been “restored and studied” over the years by museum experts.

“227 works of art are presented here. It is an absolutely new exhibition concept, a new approach to ancient art, a fresh look at these works. Everything presented here belongs to the (Russian imperial family) collection of the Romanovs, “said the curator.

Some of the works were acquired by the Russian tsarist dynasty or given to the various tsars by representatives of the Vatican or European monarchs, but others were found by Russian archaeologists during expeditions carried out throughout the 19th century.

In addition, the exhibition includes not only originals, some as significant as a torso of Aphrodite from the second century BC, attributed to Polycarmo of Rhodes, but also imitations made by European artists of the seventeenth century and that swelled the collections of ancient art of the leading European collectors.

It is a particular way of seeing ancient art that is gaining more and more followers among contemporary specialists, since it not only shows ancient art itself, but also how it was seen by other artists over the years and how restorers had an impact in these pieces throughout history.

According to Piotrovski, it is “a special way of exhibiting, a special type of works, a special ideology” of presenting art.

The director of the Hermitage defended that this type of exhibitions present alternative views on ancient art, on the concepts of conservation in different times, on the definition of art itself.

“It is a complicated story about art, it is not a story about beautiful objects and beautiful rooms, it is a story about what art history really is, what museum work really is, what conservation art really is. and what stories conservation funds can reveal, “he said.

And it is that for Piotrovski, the conservation funds “are the main part of the museum; they are the base of the museum”.

“The rest correspond to very important additional functions, but that would not exist without the funds,” he said.


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