The State Hermitage Museum (Russian: Госуда́рственный Эрмита́ж, tr. Gosudárstvennyj Ermitáž, IPA: [ɡəsʊˈdarstvʲɪn(ː)ɨj ɪrmʲɪˈtaʂ]) is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The largest art museum in the world, it was founded in 1764 when Empress Catherine the Great acquired an impressive collection of paintings from the Berlin merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky. The museum celebrates the anniversary of its founding each year on 7 December, Saint Catherine's Day. It has been open to the public since 1852. It attracted 968,604 visitors in 2020, a drop of eighty percent from 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020 it ranked eleventh on the list of most visited art museums in the world.
Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display, comprise over three million items (the numismatic collection accounts for about one-third of them). 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, Storage Facility at Staraya Derevnya, and the eastern wing of the General Staff Building are also part of the museum. The museum has several exhibition centers abroad. The Hermitage is a federal state property. Since July 1992, the director of the museum has been Mikhail Piotrovsky.
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