Culture as Scandal: The Hermitage Story (Hardcover)
The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg is one of the greatest museums in the world, with a history stretching back over 300 years. Largely inaccessible to Western visitors during the Soviet period, the Museum's inner workings have remained hidden from view in the intervening years. Now, for the first time, the longstanding Director of the Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky and journalist Geraldine Norman lift the lid on the scandals of different kinds which have beset the Hermitage during its fascinating history, from the era of the Museum's founder Catherine the Great to the present. Through the lens of scandal, the book seeks to draw parallels between the recent problems of the Museum and earlier periods of its rich history. Covering restitution issues, controversial sales and purchases, thefts, fluctuating attributions, the fight over new art, corruption associated with the construction of the Museum’s buildings, politically motivated scandals, and the ‘scandal’ of the Covid-19 pandemic, the book provides unique insight into the challenges of managing a world-famous institution in a country which has undergone huge political upheavals in the modern period.
Geraldine Norman is a former journalist with The Times and the Independent and the author of The Hermitage: The Biography of a Great Museum (1997). She was briefly the Director of the Hermitage Rooms at Somerset House (2000-2001) and subsequently founded and ran the UK Friends of the Hermitage. Mikhail Piotrovsky has been Director of the State Hermitage Museum since 1992. He is also Chairman of the Association of the Museums of Russia and a long-serving member of the President’s Council on Culture. An Islamic scholar, he is head of the Oriental Department of St Petersburg University.