Guggenheim and Hermitage Announce Long-Term Collaboration

Guggenheim and Hermitage Announce Long-Term Collaboration


Collaboration Will Assist the State Hermitage Museum and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in Fulfilling Respective Missions and Achieving Long-Term Goals

ST. PETERSBURG/NEW YORK: Dr. Mikhail Shwydkoi, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation; Peter B. Lewis, Chairman of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; Prof. Mikhail Piotrovski, Director of the State Hermitage Museum; and Thomas Krens, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation today announced at a press conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, the signing of a long-term collaboration agreement between the Guggenheim Foundation and the State Hermitage Museum.

The broad strategic objectives of the alliance are to make the each museum's respective collections accessible to broader audiences; to share resources; to implement joint exhibition, internet, publishing, and educational initiatives; and to facilitate each institution's long-term goals.

The specific projects envisioned and enabled by the collaboration at this time are several. Most important are the collection-sharing initiatives. In St. Petersburg, the Guggenheim will become a partner of the Hermitage in the development of the east wing of the former General Staff Building, a 400,000-square-foot structure designed and built in the early 19th century according to plans developed by the Italian architect Carlo Rossi. The General Staff Building is located on the Palace Square, immediately facing the Winter Palace of the Hermitage. Prior to 1917, the General Staff Building housed the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and several other imperial civil ministries. After 1917, the building accommodated offices of various Soviet state and military institutions and organizations. In 1993 the Hermitage was granted the exclusive use of the General Services Building for museum purposes. For the past four years, Prof. Piotrovski and his staff have been developing and implementing plans for the restoration and renovation of the building as a much-needed expansion of the Hermitage.

The restored and renovated General Staff Building will house galleries for major sections of the Hermitage permanent collections, including the Empire Collections of 19th-century decorative arts; the extensive porcelain collections; and the unparalleled Shchukin-Morosov collection of more than 250 late-19th- century paintings, including masterpieces by Picasso, van Gogh, Cézanne, and Matisse. In addition, the building will be the home for a major new initiative in 20th-century art that is a centerpiece of the Hermitage-Guggenheim collaboration. Installations of postwar modern and contemporary art, multi-media installations, and contemporary art and photography from the Guggenheim collections will be installed in the renovated General Staff Building. The Guggenheim will assist in the planning and design of the renovated gallery spaces, as well as the development and implementation of the special exhibitions program focusing on modern and contemporary art.

A fundamental goal of the project is to provide for the display of classical art from the collections of the State Hermitage in the museums of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. In particular, a suite of Hermitage galleries in the new 572,000-square-foot Guggenheim Museum building, designed by Frank Gehry for a site on the East River in lower Manhattan, will provide a major platform for the State Hermitage in New York City. Although the new Guggenheim Museum, introduced to the public in April of this year, still faces a lengthy approval process, if realized its programming will include the regular presentation of work from the Hermitage permanent collections, as well as special exhibitions jointly organized by the Guggenheim and the Hermitage. As the program is developed, special attention will be paid to bringing works of art that are unique to a New York audience, complementing the programs of other major New York City institutions. The Hermitage Program at the Guggenheim will also include collaborations and exchanges with Guggenheim Museums in Bilbao and Venice. Once it is underway, the scope of the alliance will also be expanded to include Russian regional museums under the leadership of the State Hermitage Museum.

Another element of the collaboration agreement will establish an Hermitage- Guggenheim partnership to explore and implement museum expansion and cultural development opportunities at various other locations throughout the world. In addition to the St. Petersburg and New York projects, the Guggenheim and the Hermitage will jointly undertake the development of studies to determine the feasibility of cultural development and Guggenheim-Hermitage museum expansion projects at select locations in other parts of the world. Both institutions have been approached by various cities with requests for them to study and recommend cultural infrastructure projects. The Guggenheim currently operates museums and exhibition spaces in New York, Venice, Bilbao, and Berlin. In addition to its more than 2 million square feet of exhibition space in St. Petersburg, soon to be augmented by the development of the General Staff Building, the Hermitage will open Hermitage Collection facilities in London at Somerset House later this year, and in Amsterdam in 2006. Together the Guggenheim-Hermitage collaboration has the potential to present a full spectrum of exhibitions and scholarly research projects from pre-historic times to the present.

The alliance has been strongly endorsed by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, a signatory to the agreement. According to Dr. Mikhail Shwydkoi, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, "In view of its scale and importance, the significance of this project is exceptional for Russian-American cultural relations, first and foremost because this is an equal partnership, the goal of which is to introduce masterpieces from Russian and American museum collections into a worldwide cultural and academic circulation."

In a memorandum to Presidents Putin and Clinton that was delivered on the occasion of their meeting in Moscow on June 2, Dr. Shwydkoi wrote, "As a result of this collaboration, the Russian public will for the first time have the opportunity to experience the development of 20th-century art in a general context, and to witness the worldwide unity of the artistic process, however unique and particular the development of a national culture may seem from within." He added, "The realization of this unprecedented alliance and program of long-term partnership between the State Hermitage and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation will doubtless bring the humanitarian and cultural collaboration between Russia and the United States to a principally new level."

Thomas. Krens, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, said of the alliance, "The State Hermitage is one of the greatest museums in the entire world. Its collections are the equivalent of the Louvre or the Metropolitan, but they stop right at the beginning of the 20th century. The combined Guggenheim collections range from the late 19th century to the present, with a strong representation of postwar modern and contemporary art, and the Guggenheim has one of the most active special exhibition programs of any museum in the world. The alliance is highly complementary, with the added benefit of increasing awareness between our two cultures, providing significant benefits to the public at large."

"The realization of this long-term partnership between the State Hermitage and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation will bring the two cultures together on a new level," said Prof. Mikhail Piotrovski, Director of the State Hermitage. "Clearly the cultural and political significance of this program will have far-reaching effects. But more immediately, the Guggenheim's expertise in the field of museum design and development, and its collections and expertise in modern and contemporary art, will be valuable assets for us to draw upon."

As part of the collaboration agreement, the Guggenheim Foundation and the State Hermitage Museum will jointly investigate opportunities for enhancing their respective offerings to their international constituencies. The alliance will also seek to attract direct and long-term financial support, which will enable the expansion, conservation, and enhanced preservation of existing collections and physical facilities.

The Guggenheim Museum has a distinguished history of organizing important exhibitions of Russian art, including The Great Utopia: The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915-1932, which opened at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1992, and Amazons of the Avant-Garde: Alexandra Exter, Natalia Goncharova, Liubov Popova, Olga Rozanova, Varvara Stepanova, and Nadezhda Udaltsova, which opened at the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin in 1999. Amazons of the Avant-Garde subsequently traveled to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; is currently on view at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; and will open at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in September 2000, making it the only exhibition ever to appear in all four Guggenheim host cities. The catalogue for the exhibition has been published in English, German, Italian, and Spanish, and will be published in Russian later this year.

Established in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation operates an international network of museums, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Guggenheim Museum SoHo in New York; the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; and Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin. The Foundation's mission is dedicated to the collection, preservation, presentation, and interpretation of modern and contemporary art and culture. The Guggenheim maintains a premiere collection of twentieth-century art, with significant holdings of Beuys, Brancusi, Chagall, and Kandinsky, as well as major works by Arp, Bourgeois, Cézanne, Flavin, Mapplethorpe, Pollock, Rothko, Rauschenberg, Serra, and Warhol, among many others.

The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, is renowned for its collections that range from prehistoric cultures to modern art. Situated in the center of St. Petersburg, the State Hermitage Museum is housed in five historic buildings, including the Winter Palace, the former residence of Russian Emperors. In its nearly 235-year existence, the museum has amassed over three million objects, including significant holdings in Middle Eastern and Egyptian cultures, Greek and Roman art, Islamic and Oriental art, Italian Renaissance art, and 19th- and 20th-century art. Its collection of Italian painting includes masterpieces by Giorgione, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian. Its extensive collection of French paintings includes substantial holdings of Degas, Gauguin, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Renoir, and van Gogh.

At present the State Hermitage is in the process of realizing a development program of the "Greater Hermitage Project," which includes art storage facilities, galleries, exhibition spaces in Russia and abroad, and new forms of electronic communication with visitors.


June 20, 2000

Director of Public Affairs
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Telephone: 212 423-3840
Telefax: 212 423-3787
Web site:
Larissa Sergeievna Aerova
Manager, Press Services
State Hermitage Museum
Telephone: 7/812 315-7722
7/812 312-1567
Web site

Press images

Press Images

Download high resolution, press-approved images.

contact us

Have a media inquiry? Contact us for more information.