on June 20, 2000
The Hermitage is well known among the great art museums of the world. If a person were to spend two minutes eight hours a day looking at each piece of art, it would take one hundred and fifty-five years to see the Hermitage. The museum (which was really a palace) began to collect art even before Catherine the Great spent so many rubles collecting the great art collections of Europe. She bought art to demonstrate her love of culture and art and to demonstrate that she too was an enlightened leader who belonged to the fraternity of 'Enlightened ones.' This practice was followed by all of the Tsars that followed her and as a result the Hermitage boasts the largest collection of French Impressionist art to be found under one roof. In fact the Hermitage boasts art of every age and even has two paintings by Leonardo De Vinci. The collection begins with the art of pre-historic times and has a vast collection of Egyptian art. All of the art produced by the great European painters are there from the 14th Century forward. There are sculptures and great vases of marble. Fantastic furniture and golden thrones abound. There is the great coronation carriage of the Romanovs and scads of fabulous porcelain. There is the fabulous Fabrege collection and tapestries. Perhaps best of all is the architecture of the palace itself. The Cameron staircase is arguably one of the most beautiful in the world. The last group I took to Russia was given freedom of movement there with a makeup chance on the last day of the tour to go back for something that we might have missed that was important for them to see.
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