Hermitage History 1800s

Troops drilling outside the Winter Palace, ca. 1840. Painting by Vasily Semyonovich Sadovnikov.

The Hermitage Museum Foundation in New York (Operations Suspended)

Published: May 30, 2024

The Hermitage Museum Foundation (HMF) is an independent U.S. foundation and nonprofit based in New York City. Founded in 1994, the HMF contributes to the preservation and promotion of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg while fostering cultural exchange and scholarship between the U.S. and Russia. The Foundation is committed to using art and culture as a bridge between people all over the world, representative of its global network spanning across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, 2022 the U.S. based HMF has been inactive on social media and appears to have stopped gifting collections to St. Petersburg. As of the publication of this article, the opening page of the HMF website displays a message from Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the State Hermitage Museum, encouraging friends of the Hermitage to stay calm even as “the world has gone mad” and continue its mission of building cultural bridges. On August 31, 2023, however, Canada joined Ukraine as the second country to sanction Piotrovsky among other cultural leaders, for using his cultural prowess in support of the war. In April, 2022, the museum director described Hermitage exhibitions as a “powerful cultural offensive” to be used against Ukraine.

Due to the invasion and exacerbated by Piotrovsky’s remarks, many members of the HMF global network cut ties with their mother museum. In March, 2022, the Hermitage Amsterdam Museum was the first to separate from St. Petersburg and has since been rebranded as H’Art Museum. Acting as a “museum for museums,” H’Art presents exhibitions in partnership with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Centre Pompidou, and the British Museum. The Hermitage Foundation U.K. quickly followed suit, halting its relationship with the Russian museum in March, 2022. Unlike the U.K., Netherlands, and Canadian branches of the Hermitage Foundation, there is not enough information available to confirm whether the U.S. based HMF has similarly severed ties with St. Petersburg. However, based on its social media and internet silence, it appears the Foundation has acted similarly.

Prior to February, 2022, the U.S. HMF regularly acquired American art to add to the growing American art collections of the Hermitage. In January 2022, a set of 21 street photographs taken by twentieth century photographers: Bruce Davidson, Leon Levinstein, Arthur Leipzig, Aaron Siskind, and Louis Faurer, were gifted to St. Petersburg by the HMF, with support from Howard Greenberg and Deborah Bell.

In 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow gave the HMF a major grant for the restoration of three School of Raphael Frescoes. In addition to the restoration, the grant was intended to cover an exhibition entitled “After Raphael” accompanied by a series of online seminars and presentations by preservation specialists.

Again, due to the lack of an official statement of dissent from the U.S. HMF, it is hard to state the Foundation’s exact stance. But if its social media and internet boycott, in addition to Canada’s recent sanctions on Piotrovsky suggest anything, the U.S. HMF will likely remain inactive until long after the war ends.

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About the author

Abigail Crosby

At the time she wrote for this site, Abigail Crosby was a recent graduate of Bard College in upstate New York. She received a B.A. in history and Russian and Eurasian studies. Her senior thesis explored the creation of Soviet ballet in the late 1920s to 1930s through research on the critical response given to three early Soviet ballets from this time period. She served an Online Research Internship with SRAS over the summer of 2023.

View all posts by: Abigail Crosby