The State Hermitage is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has been open to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display, comprise over three million items, including the largest collection of paintings in the world. The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors. Apart from them, the Menshikov Palace, Museum of Porcelain, the Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Centre and the eastern wing of the General Staff Building are also part of the museum. Total number of visitors is more than 2 950 000. In recent years, the Hermitage launched several dependencies abroad and domestically, among them – the Hermitage-Amsterdam Exhibition Centre, the Hermitage-Italy Scientific and Cultural Centre.
State Hermitage included the International conference “Museum and Politics” to the 250-years anniversary celebration program.
In 2014, when The State Hermitage celebrates its 250-years anniversary, it will be also 70-years anniversary of Dr. Mikhail Piotrovski, who has been the director of the State Hermitage since 1992.
Dr.Piotrovski – researcher and archeologist with specialization in Arabic culture and language. He entered the Leningrad branch of the Institute for Oriental Studies as a research assistant in 1967 and worked there until 1991. In 1991 he was invited to join the Hermitage staff as first deputy director with responsibility for research work. His father, Boris Piotrovski, an eminent archaeologist was director of The State Hermitage Museum from 1964 to 1990. In July 1992 Mikhail Piotrovsky was appointed Director of the State Hermitage by government decree.
Dr. Piotrovski has taken part in archaeological excavations in the Caucasus, Central Asia and Yemen. He is an author of more than 250 works including catalogues of Arabic manuscripts, publications of Medieval monuments and ancient inscriptions, works on Islamic political history and Arabic culture.
Dr. Piotrovski is a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Academy of Arts, a member of the President's Council for Art and Culture, a professor of Saint-Petersburg State University, were he chairs two departments - "Museology" and "Ancient Orient". He is a President of the Union of Museums in Russia, a President of the Worldwide Club of Saint-Petersburg, a Chairman of the board of the European University in Saint-Petersburg, a Corresponding Member of the German Archeological Institute, an Editor-in-chief of the magazine The Christian Orient. He is a member of the Group of Consultants for Council of Europe art exhibitions, and other national and international organizations.