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Landmark Exhibition of European Art from the Hermitage Museum
Sept. 21–NOV. 23 - A UMMA Exclusive

From September 21 through November 23, the University of Michigan Museum of Art will present The Romanovs Collect: European Art from the Hermitage, a historic exhibition of more than 140 exquisite works of fine and decorative art from the unrivalled collections of the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. The Museum of Art is the exclusive worldwide venue for this extraordinary exhibition, the first such collaboration between the Hermitage and a North American university museum.

This exhibition is made possible by Ford Motor Company.

Additional support has been provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities, the University of Michigan's Office of the Provost, Office of the Vice President for Communications, Office of the Vice President for Research, and other generous donors.

From French paintings, Dutch drawings, and Italian sculpture to meticulously detailed furniture, renowned Wedgwood and Sèvres porcelain, and Aubusson tapestries, the exhibition will provide an unprecedented window into the luxurious world of the Romanov tsars and their passion for collecting all things European.

“This is one of the most ambitious exhibition projects in the history of the Museum and we are delighted to have this opportunity to collaborate with the Hermitage,” said James Steward, director of the Museum of Art and organizer of the exhibition. “Our many thanks go to Ford Motor Company for its continuing generosity enabling us to bring these European treasures to the Midwest.”

“We are pleased to continue our support of the University of Michigan Museum of Art through the sponsorship of The Romanovs Collect, a landmark exhibition which celebrates St. Petersburg's rich cultural heritage,” said Sandra E. Ulsh, President, Ford Motor Company Fund. “As Ford marks its 100th anniversary this year, we are proud to continue our longstanding commitment to supporting diverse arts and cultural programs such as this, which educate and inspire the public and enliven our communities.”

Anchoring the University of Michigan’s Celebrating St. Petersburg Festival—a wide-ranging series of cultural events and educational programs marking the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg—the exhibition presents a fascinating story of Imperial personalities, nation building, and the evolution of collecting tastes across one of the most turbulent periods in European history.

Organized chronologically by tsar, the eight sections of the exhibition with artwork by some 80 European artists and artisans reveal the evolution of collecting in Imperial Russia from Peter the Great to the tragic end of the Romanovs in 1917.

In founding St. Petersburg in 1703, Peter the Great set out to build a modern capital that would rival or exceed the capitals of Europe, and he avidly began to build a collection of European art, often buying art abroad to reflect both his personal taste and his desire to elevate Russia’s prestige internationally.

Peter’s daughter Elizabeth, who ruled from 1741 to 1761, continued her father’s collecting practices by obtaining large numbers of artworks, including the exhibition’s porcelain service by Meissen, Europe’s oldest producer of hard ceramics.

Catherine II (ruled 1762–1796), known as Catherine the Great, was a voracious collector who acquired tens of thousands of works of art, often purchasing large collections en masse from European royalty and rulers, commissioning work directly from European artists, and making astute individual purchases on the advice of her personal coterie of agents abroad.

Catherine’s taste for the Old Masters, the art of her own time, and the neoclassical are evident in such works as Hans Bol’s panoramic Allegory of Spring; Jean-Baptiste Greuze’s Portrait of a Young Man in a Hat; Anton Raphael Mengs’s graceful Annunciation; and pieces from the vast “Cameo” dinner and dessert service made for her by the royal Sèvres Porcelain Factory in France.

While Catherine’s heirs may have slowed the pace of collecting, they were strongly influenced by her aesthetic preferences and continued to acquire art in all media, including one of Caspar David Friedrich’s signature Romantic landscapes, Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s dynamic sculpture St. Ambrose, and Hubert Robert’s stunning portrayal of ancient ruins.

By the time Nicholas II came to power in 1894, the Romanovs’ personal tastes were no longer as definitively European as they had been in the previous century, and a changed political climate dictated what the tsar’s family could collect and display on behalf of the Russian nation. Nicholas’ taste for quiet domesticity serves as a thoughtful conclusion to this visually compelling exhibition.


The Romanovs Collect: European Art from the Hermitage is a special ticketed exhibition. Timed and dated tickets are now available through TicketsPlus by phone (800-585-3737), online ( HYPERLINK "" and at all TicketsPlus outlets, including participating Meijer stores. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the Museum beginning September 21. Tickets are $8.00 for adults. Groups of 10 receive the 11th ticket free.

Admission is free for students of all ages in the State of Michigan with ID. University of Michigan Museum of Art members will receive free tickets in the mail.

Tickets will be sold for the following time slots: 10 am – 2 pm Tuesday through Saturday; 1 – 5 pm Tuesday through Saturday; 5 – 9 pm Thursday only; 12 – 5 pm Sunday only.

Special Lectures

The following special lectures organized in conjunction with The Romanovs Collect will take place at UMMA and are free and open to the public.

Sunday, September 28, 3 pm: “Becoming Russian: The Evolution of Russian Style in the Imperial Court”

Alexey Leporc, Assistant Professor, Department of Art History, European University at St. Petersburg

Sunday, October 26, 3 pm: “Nicholas I and The Hermitage: Builder, Patron, Tastemaker,” Anne Odom, Curator Emeritus, Hillwood Museum, Washington, DC

Curator’s Talks

A series of six afternoon talks by curators from The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, which will take place in Room 1636 at the International Institute, 1080 South University. All curators’ talks are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, September 10, 12 pm: “French Textiles in Russia: Western Influences on the Russian Taste in Interior Decoration, 1750-1800,” Tatiana Lekhovich, Curator of Textiles, Western European Art Department, The State Hermitage Museum

Tuesday, September 16, 4 pm: “Porcelain and the Culture and Politics of Imperial Russia,” Lidia Liackhova, Curator of Porcelain, Western European Art Department, The State Hermitage Museum

Wednesday, September 17, 4 pm: “Russian Royalty and German Romantic Art.” Mikhail Dedinkin, Curator of 19th- & 20th-Century German Drawings, Western European Art Department, The State Hermitage Museum

Tuesday, October 7, 4 pm: “The Anglomania of the Russian Tsars,” Elizaveta Renne, Senior Researcher and Keeper of British and Scandinavian Painting, Western European Art Department, The State Hermitage Museum

Monday, October 20, 4 pm: “The Collection of Peter the Great,” Sergey Androsov, Head of the 19th- and 20th-Century Painting and Sculpture, Department of Western European Art, The State Hermitage Museum

Tuesday, October 28, 4 pm: “Military Collections of the Russian Emperors,” Georgy Vilinbakhov, First Deputy Director of The State Hermitage Museum; State Herald, Corresponding Member of the International Academy of Heraldry.

Family Day

UMMA and University Musical Society join together to offer an afternoon of family activities for the University-wide Celebrating St. Petersburg Festival.

1-2 pm: Miami City Ballet Family Performance, Power Center Special one-hour family performance featuring "The Neighborhood Ballroom". For tickets, call the UMS Box office 734-764-2538 or visit HYPERLINK ""

2-5 pm: Family Activities, UMMA Drop-in activities include gallery exploration activities, performance/demonstrations and art-making projects. All activities are free. However, pre-registration is required for the oil pastel drawing workshop, "St. Petersburg Mirrored in Water," led by Elena Townsend-Efimova, founder of Ann Arbor’s Talking Colors Art School. To register for the drawing workshop, please call 734-647-0522.


Please check the Museum’s Web site ( "" for a schedule of public, walk-in tours. To arrange a guided docent tour for a group, please call 734.647.0522. Tours are free to exhibition ticket-holders.

Exhibition Catalogue

A fully illustrated catalogue published in association with Merrell Publishers accompanies the exhibition and will be available for purchase for $55.00 in the Museum Gift Shop once the exhibition opens.

The catalogue includes scholarly essays by James Steward, who considers the private tastes of the Romanovs; Alexey Leporc, on the Hermitage’s transformation from princely collection to public museum; Katia Dianina, on the history and impact of the State Hermitage Museum; and professor Wendy Salmond, who examines the impact of Westernized imperial taste on artists and craftsmen throughout Russia.

Celebrating St. Petersburg Festival

For more information on all the events surrounding the University of Michigan’s Celebrating St. Petersburg Festival, please visit HYPERLINK ""


The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority is offering visitors to The Romanovs Collect two (2) hours free parking at the South Forest Street parking structure (half-block south of South University). To receive the discount, please give the exhibition ticket stub to the parking attendant upon exiting.

General Information

The University of Michigan Museum of Art is located on the University’s central campus at the corner of South State Street and South University in Ann Arbor.

Open Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 5 pm; Thursday 10 am to 9 pm; Sunday noon to 5 pm. Closed Mondays and major holidays.

Hotline: (734) 763-UMMA.

Contact: Stephanie Rieke