One can never enjoy all the rarities of the Hermitage Museum without visiting the temporary exhibitions organized by the museum curators every year. One of these exhibitions offered the possibility of discovering the world of ancient weaponry. From late May till mid-October 2014 the third largest museum in the world showcased its undoubtedly brilliant collection of weaponry from all over the world.
The Director of the museum pointed out the great importance of the weaponry exhibition at the Hermitage Museum as it was an integral part of the 250th anniversary celebration of the museum. The collection was divided into three main sections. The first one represented gunnery of Europe from the 9th till the 19th century. Another one was dedicated to the Eastern art of weaponry and the last one narrated about the development of different schools of armory art in Russia.
In total there were about 250 art objects, including yatagans, swords, crossbows, helmets, and shields that were shown to public. This immense collection was started by the Romanovs. Nikolay Pavlovich, future emperor of Russia Nikolas I, had a strong passion for medieval weaponry and possessed a large number of antique weapons. Later on more acquisitions were made – mainly at Western-European auctions.
Another source of the collection were diplomatic gifts and war trophies. That’s why the museum curators decided to achieve a dual purpose. On the one hand, they demonstrated unique examples of armor such as Indian fabric mails. From the other hand, objects of memorial meaning were shown too. One sabre, called ”Slava” (Russian for ”glory”), was created especially for Emperor Alexander I and was decorated with battle scenes from the War of 1812.
The exhibition took place in the special ”Hermitage Vyborg” cultural centre which was opened in 2010. It is situated in the old part of Vyborg near the former 16th century bastion. Nowadays this exhibition hall is widely popular with Russian tourists and it is anticipated that two more museums will be opened there in the nearest future.
Don’t worry if you missed this exhibition. If you are interested to see some of the weaponry that the Hermitage has on display we can include it as part of a St Petersburg tour or St Petersburg shore excursion.