1852: Opening of the Imperial museum New Hermitage
Caught up in the European mode for establishing state museums, Emperor Nicholas I invited Leo von Klenze - architect of the Alte Pinakothek and Glyptothek in Berlin, both built for Ludwig I of Bavaria - to come to Russia and build a new extension and public entrance to the Hermitage Museum. Between 1842 and 1851, Russian architects Nikolay Yefimov and Vasily Stasov put into effect Klenze's design, making some changes in order to fit the new construction to the existing architectural ensemble. The entrance to this austere and magnificent building in the Historicist style has a portico supported by five-meter high Atlantes figures cut from grey granite in the workshop of Alexander Terebenev. The building is also decorated with statues and bas-reliefs showing notable artists, architects and sculptors from previous eras. Ancient, renaissance and baroque motifs enliven the facades.
Rooms were designed in accordance with the collection to be displayed in them: for instance the splendid Skylight Halls on the first (second) floor housed collections of painting, whereas the rooms on the ground floor, with Etruscan and other ancient motifs, were for the collection of antiquities.
The ceremonial opening of the Imperial Hermitage Museum took place on 5 February 1852. A special performance was given in the Hermitage Theatre, followed by a dinner for 600 persons in the sumptuous Skylight Halls.
The interiors of the Museum survive intact today.
The State Entrance of the New Hermitage.
Watercolour by Constantine Ukhtomsky
The Hall of Twenty Columns