Description - Culture as Scandal: The Hermitage Story by Geraldine Norman

The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg is one of the greatest museums in the world, with a history stretching back over 300 years and vast, wide-ranging collections of superb quality. It is also an institution which has endured the tumultuous events of Russian history, surviving two Revolutions and two World Wars as well as the forced sales from its collections by the State in the 1930s. Inaccessible to Western visitors during the Soviet period, the museum has remained something of a mystery to this day.

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 (both real and invented) which have beset the Hermitage during its fascinating history, from the era of the Museum's founder Catherine the Great (and before her that of Peter the Great, the builder of St Petersburg) 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 new buildings, politically motivated scandals, and the global 'scandal' of the Covid-19 pandemic, the book provides unique insight into the challenges of managing a world-famous institution. It will appeal to Russophiles, Russophobes, art lovers, museum curators and directors, and all visitors to this extraordinary museum.

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