One of the largest and oldest museums in the world, The State hermitage Museum, was founded in 1754 by Catherine the Great in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It has been open to the public since 1852. The collection of the museum has over three million items which include the largest collection of paintings in the world but only a small part of these items is on permanent display. Along the Palace embankment, the collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings including the Winter Palace. 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. Mikhail Piotrovsky has been the director of the museum since July 1992 and the hermitage is a federal state property.
Five out of six buildings in the main museum complex are open to the public. The names of the buildings are the Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage, New Hermitage and Hermitage Theatre. The entry tickets for the citizens of Russia and Belarus costs less in comparison to the cost for foreign tourists.The entry is always free for students and children and the first Thursday of every month for all visitors. The museum is closed on Mondays.
Collections in the museum:
Egyptian antiquities: The Egyptian collection which dates back to 1852 has occupied a large hall on the ground floor in the Winter Palace since 1940. It also serves as a passage to the Classical Antiquities. A number of Assyrian reliefs from Babylon, Dur-Sharrukin and Nimrud is located in the same part of the building with a modest collection of the culture of Ancient Mesopotamia.
Classical Antiquities: Most of the ground floor of the Old and New Hermitage buildings holds the collection of Classical Antiquities. German Architect Leo von Klenze designed the interiors of the ground floor in the Greek revival style in the 1850s. He used painted polished stucco and columns of marble and granite.
Prehistoric art: The collections of prehistoric artifacts and the culture and art of the Caucasus are located on the ground floor in the western wing of the Winter Palace. A renowned collection of the art and culture of nomadic tribes of the Altai from Pazyryk and Bashdar sites from Paleolithic to the iron Age and the world's oldest surviving knotted-pile carpet and a well-preserved wooden chariot, both from the 4th–3rd centuries BC are also a part of the museum.
Knights' Hall: The Knight's hall is a large room hosting a collection of Western European arms and armor from the 15th-17th centuries as well as for the display of coins in the greek revival style.
There are also rooms for artifacts of Jewelry and decorative art, Italian Renaissance, Italian and Spanish fine art, Dutch Golden Age and Flemish Baroque, German, British, Swiss and French fine art, Russian art, Neoclassical, Impressionist, and post-Impressionist art.