St. Petersburg Hermitage introduced annual moratorium on exhibitions in the United States and Europe. According to the museum’s management, in the current conditions, Western countries cannot guarantee the timely return of exhibits. After the war in Ukraine, the Hermitage several times encountered with delays and difficulties in returning to Russia works of art that had been taken abroad for display in European museums.
On Friday, it became known that the Ministry of Culture in fact imposed a moratorium to participate in foreign exhibitions of any Russian museum. It stopped issuing permits for the temporary export of museum exhibits from Russia. The agency has promised that the export of art objects to “friendly” countries will resume from 2023.
Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta statedthat Russia is being attacked by the West in the cultural sphere. He called the Hermitage’s recent exhibitions abroad “a powerful cultural offensive, a kind of special operation that many do not like, but no one can be allowed to hinder our offensive.” Speaking about the war in Ukraine, Piotrovsky stressed that he adheres to the formula “to be with his country, whatever it may be.” At the same time, he noted that Russian culture is inextricably linked with European culture and Europe itself, and “the special operation does not change anything here.”
Piotrovsky also said that the Hermitage had already imposed a moratorium on the export of works of art from its collections – albeit on exhibitions in Russia. The tacit ban was passed by the Hermitage’s directorate in the early 1990s, when the domestic situation was unsafe for the movement of values and posed too high risks. That moratorium lasted for about ten years.
The director of the Hermitage called on Russian museums to focus on the experience of the blockade of Leningrad as a model of the ability to preserve cultural values, continue to work and hold joint exhibitions with countries that have not joined sanctions against Russia – such as Asia.
Piotrovsky’s interview provoked a heated discussion of the Russian cultural community on social networks. Many anti-war artists and art critics have called it militaristic, imperial and “disgraceful.”
After the start of the war, the Hermitage branch in the Netherlands was ahead of schedule closed exhibitions held there, announced the severance of relations with the Russian Museum and changed its name.