The renovation of the General Staff Building of the State Hermitage Museum is undergoing final renovations and covers 60,473 square meters. The East Wing of the Staff Building will be used by the Hermitage for showcasing additional collections. The East Wing will almost double the museum’s exhibition space at a cost of $400 million dollars.
The East Wing will include artwork from tsarist Russia and contemporary times, as well as galleries dedicated to the artists Shchukin and Morozov, a Russian Guard Museum and a Faberge exhibit.
Next May the exhibition Manifesta, from the The European Biennial of Contemporary Art, is set to be shown in the newly opened East Wing. Curator Kasper König recently visited St Petersburg to describe his vision of the exhibition which he said, it is going to be a shock — a healthy shock — to the system of the greatest museum on earth. König hopes to combine contemporary art with the classic art held by the Hermitage, “artistically, intellectually and spiritually.” His exhibition, while concentrated in the East Wing, will also include the Winter Palace to make exciting comparisons and contrasts.
Manifesta is known as “the European biennial” and started 20 years ago out of the need to commemorate the new European spirit which had overcome the atrocities of World War II and set the planet in a new direction. It moves to a different city every two years, each time with a different curator who employs a new vision for the exhibition.
The first Manifesta was held in Rotterdam, a city rebuilt after World War II experiencing a contemporary Renaissance. Since then it has been in Luxembourg, Ljubljana, Frankfurt and San Sebastian, among others. Each time its highly renowned curator has charted a different course through the jungle of modern art.
Manifesta will include the work of 43 artists, 15 of whom have already accepted the invitation. It will be focused mainly on the top floor galleries of the East Wing, along the Moika Canal. Manifesta will also bring an exceptional range of lectures, music and film to the city. There will be courses for students, children and adults, hoping to present local residents to the best of contemporary trends in the Western world.