state heritage museum russiaWhen most Americans think of great art museums in Europe one of either two museums first comes to mind. They either think of the Louvre in France or maybe the Tate Modern in London. However, many people forget about the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Not only is it one of the oldest museums in the world, but it is also one of the largest.

The museum is so large, that it is said that it could take over a decade to see all the different exhibits. The crown jewel is the recreation of the Amber Room that was lost in World War II. However, if you are looking for impressionist artwork, the Hermitage has a large collection that won’t disappoint. Each section of the museum is sectioned off by theme. For example, you have a section dedicated to Egyptian art, Spanish art and even pre-historic artwork.

The Winter Palace

The museum is actually a series of buildings. The Winter Palace is the part of the Hermitage State Museum that houses the works of famous impressionist artists. Specifically, these works are housed on the second floor of the Museum. This is the only part of the second floor you can see as the rest of the second floor is closed to the public. As you wander down the halls of the second floor, you will pass the old Chinese and Persian exhibits before finally reaching the exhibits of impressionists.

This section of the museum has entire rooms dedicated to showing original works by the great impressionist artists like Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh and Gauguin. They don’t just have obscure works either, but showcase well known works such as Monet’s Waterloo Bridge (1903) and the original canvas of Van Gogh’s The Arena at Arles. You can find the works of more modern art by Picasso and Kandinsky in the same area.

The Hermitage State Museum is a must for all art and impressionist aficionados. Not many other museums can compete with the sheer volume of artworks that The Winter Palace has to offer. If you plan to visit in the summer, it can be quite crowded and it may take many hours to get in and you will be rushed from one exhibit to the next.  It is better to come see the museum in the winter. Winter is always dark, so many of the tourists choose to come at another time. However, this makes it the best time to visit St. Petersburg’s most famous palace. It may be extremely cold, but you will avoid the crowds and have a more intimate experience.