St. Petersburgs State Hermitage Museum can unequivocally be considered the largest single museum in the world. Covering a vast area of land and containing a total of 3 million items, it is 4 times larger than the likes of Paris Louvre (the busiest museum in the world). The museum was founded by Catherine the Great in 1764 and has been open to the public since 1852. Amongst the Museums collections are an astonishing array of priceless art, including works by all time greats such as Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Picasso, amongt many many others. The museum currently holds the largest collection of paintings in the world. The core museum complex has grown considerably over the years, and today is made up of six buildings, the Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage and New Hermitage, Hermitage Theatre and Reserve House. Only the first four of these buildings are currently open to the public. The museum has enjoyed a rich and varied history, coming under control of many Russian greats which has only served to enrichen its vast collections. Catherine The Great, the museums originator collected an incredible 4,000 paintings, 38,000 books, 10,000 engraved gems, 10,000 drawings and 16,000 coins and medals until her death in 1796. The next major development in the museums history was when it opened to the public for the first time in 1852, by which time it was also filled with many Egyptian, Greek and Scythian antiquities which had been excavated within the Russian empire. Since then, the museum has continued to grow its collections, receiving many important works from Tsars palaces around the country, only temporarily being closed in the midst of World War II when a number of bombs and shells struck the building, and a large number of extremely valuable works had to be evacuated to Yekaterinburg. Not only is the Hermitage the largest museum in the world, it was also recently voted by users of the website TripAdvisor to be the best museum in the world, coming in first place in a poll of thousands of the websites visitors. The museum can be visited all year round and is relatively inexpensive to enter if you do not opt for a private tour guide. It is closed every Monday, and is free to enter on the last Thursday of every month. Kristi Rorison is Director of Outgoing Business at IntoRussia. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.
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