Published on April 23rd at Columbia University Press, the new book of Vincent Antonin Lépinay entitled “Art of Memories, Curating at the Hermitage” documents the conservation practices of the Saint Petersburg Museum in an innovative way of approaching the institution as a cultural laboratory.
Once the home of Catherine the Great’s private art collection, the State Hermitage Museum became the largest museum in the Soviet Union and, since the collapse of the USSR, one of the most active museums in the world. In “Art of Memories”, Vincent Antonin Lépinay documents the Hermitage’s curatorial practices in an innovative consideration of the museum as a cultural laboratory.
In “Art of Memories”, Vincent Antonin Lépinay analyzes the tensions between the museum as a space of exploration of the collections and as a culture heavily invested in self-protection from the outside world.
As the Hermitage has become increasingly present on the world museum scene, it has maintained a very strong culture of secrecy and orality, inherited from a time when travel abroad was rare and preservation of “bourgeois collections” was in the museum enclave and without a public.
“Art of Memories” opens the door of one of the world’s great museums to reveal how art history is made through the unique documentation of collections caught in the Cold War.