The Collection Inventory Project Reaches First Milestone
On August 24 to 31, 2001 Bob Kaszanits, President of the State Hermitage Museum Foundation of Canada, and Bill Humphries, member of its Board of Directors, were in New York City together with five members of the Hermitage Museum's Registry Department. Jim Fox and Diane Bowden of the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) joined in what would be a milestone week to select the new collection management system for the Hermitage.
The selection process began almost a year ago with a call to 26 companies from eight countries for a show of interest. This past April, a short list of six companies was reduced to one firm -- Gallery Systems of New York - based on each company's capabilities against criteria provided by CHIN. Gallery Systems was put through a rigorous examination.
The system is used by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, all of which were visited.
With seven Russian-speaking staff, Gallery Systems has demonstrated its long-term commitment to the Russian market. In the weeks and months to come, their "Museum Systems" will be reconfigured and adapted to comply with the Hermitage's unique collection management requirements.
Says Bob Kaszanits, "We very much appreciate the financial support of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, The Getty Grant Program, as well as support by individual Canadians who are devoted to the project, for helping us to reach this critical first milestone."
Bill Humphries and Bob Kaszanits led the contract negotiations during the second half of the week. Besides the purchase of software licenses, they negotiated the cost of training Hermitage staff as well as ongoing systems support.
In January 2002 the first network of computers was in place at the Hermitage. Consultants from New York are installing the software during February. Staff training begins right away. Bob and Bill are once again spending a week in St. Petersburg, assisting and overseeing the process on behalf of the Foundation.
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News from the Hermitage
A Royal Scythian Burial
Last summer, a joint Russian-German expedition excavated a rare find: an untouched grave in a burial mound located in the so-called "Valley of the Kings" near the Siberian town of Kyzyl. Among many other treasures, the tomb contained about 5,000 decorative gold pieces and semi-precious stones buried with a Scythian couple some time between the 5th and 6th centuries B.C. The gold objects alone weigh about 44 pounds. All the artefacts have been moved to the Hermitage Museum for restoration and safekeeping until a museum can be built to house these spectacular finds. For more information on the excavations and other news from the Hermitage, see http://www.hermitage.ru/html_En/11/hm11_0.html
Chariot of Glory Restored
On December 26, 2001, an official ceremony took place in Palace Square to mark the completion of the restoration of the Chariot of Glory that crowns the General Staff arch. The Chariot was commissioned by Nicholas I and completed in 1828. It was last repaired in 1906 and had deteriorated badly.
At present, the General Staff Building houses the exhibition "Under the Sign of the Eagle: Empire Art" in its eastern wing. Restoration work is continuing in other sections of the building. When completed, the General Staff Building will be transformed into a modern museum to show Hermitage Museum collections of art of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Friends' Day in St. Petersburg
On December 8th, the Hermitage Museum celebrated its Friends in style. The programme included a presentation of the international sponsors' projects - the Hall of Augustus, Rubens' and Snyders' Halls - reopened after restoration, as well as a new Internet centre in the Hermitage. Of particular interest was the same-day opening of the British Art Rooms after restoration. The new exhibition space shows some 200 objects ranging from the 16th to the 19th centuries. On view are paintings from the Walpole collection, outstanding examples of English silver, porcelain (including pieces from the Green Frog Service), medals, gems and watches.
A meeting with Dr. Piotrovsky in the Hermitage Theatre featured an awards ceremony at which honorary diplomas and medals were bestowed on sponsors of the Museum. The ceremony concluded with a concert by the State Hermitage Museum Orchestra and a reception in the Winter Palace of Peter the Great.
Friends in England
We hear that a Hermitage Museum Friends Group is taking shape in England. Good luck to our future English Friends!
Canadian Federation of Friends of Museums
The Canadian Friends of the Hermitage are members of this organization which brings together Friends' groups across Canada. Their mandate is:
The CFFM are sponsoring the Carol Sprachman Lecture at this year's Canadian Museums Association conference in Calgary (April 30 - May 4). The speaker is Elaine Heumann Gurian who will speak on "Finding a focus amid the choices: the expanding definition of museums and what to do about it."
International Museums Day
The International Council of Museums (ICOM) has officially announced themes for International Museums Day 2002 and 2003. "Museums and Globalization" is the theme for 2002, whereas "Museums and Friends" will be the theme for 2003. International Museums Day is celebrated around the world each year on May 18th.
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280 Metcalfe Street, Suite 400, Ottawa, ON K2P 1R7. Tel. (613) 236-1116. Fax (613) 233-5438
Ottawa Symphony Orchestra Concert
On February 25, the Ottawa Chapter is again co-sponsoring an illustrated pre-concert talk by Mr. Jean-Jacques Van Vlasselaer. Mr. Van Vlasselaer is speaking at 7:00 p.m. in the Salon of the NAC. His topic is: "The Composer and His Space for Freedom", using as examples the three Russian composers whose works are on the programme: Kabalevsky (Colas Breugnon Overture), Khachaturian (Suite from Spartacus) and Prokofiev (Symphony No. 3, The Fiery Angel). The Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and the Embassy of the Russian Federation are co-sponsoring this event.
Free admission; front row reserved seats for Canadian Friends of the Hermitage.
There are a limited number of specially priced concert tickets available at our office. Call 236-1116 to order.
A special event for members only will be held on Friday, March 15 at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa. You will receive your personal invitation by mail.
Study Groups - English
An informal study/discussion group on a choice of Russian cultural subjects is being formed in Ottawa for members of Friends. We have had an initial response from seven people, and Thursday afternoon is best suited to everyone. An organizational meeting will be held on Thursday, February 21, 2 p.m. at the home of Judith Parkes, 63 Kings Landing Private, telephone 569-3715.
Please telephone or e-mail Nancy Scarth, 826-1090, [email protected] to register. To meet in participants' homes, the size of the group is limited to ten. There is the possibility of forming a second group.
Of Interest to Our Francophone Members
Keep your Saturday afternoons free during March -- to attend three interesting events organized especially for your enjoyment.
Cost: free to our members, $5 per lecture for non-members. Space is limited, so please register early.
We regret that we cannot, at present, give you precise dates, times and locations. For information and to register, please call (613) 236-1116 or e-mail us at [email protected]. You can also send inquiries by regular post. As soon as we have more information, we will post it on our web site at http://www.hermitagemuseum.ca/.
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50 Baldwin Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1L4.
Tel. 416-979-0932. Fax 416-348-0438
Please note our new e-mail address: [email protected]
Winter 2002 Activities
Please note all lectures will start at 7:00 p.m. with a reception at 6:15 p.m.
Tuesday, January 29 - "The Place of the Hermitage in Today's Russia"
Speaker: Her Excellency, Anne Leahy, former Canadian Ambassador to Russia.
Location: The Town Hall, Innis College, University of Toronto, 2 Sussex Avenue at St. George.
Tuesday, February 26 - "A Brief History of Russian Icons from Constantinople to Kandinsky"
Speaker: Sheila M. Campbell, Curator of the Malcove Collection, University Arts Centre, University of Toronto.
Location: The Education Theatre, Art Gallery of Ontario.
Tuesday, March 19 - "The Voyage into Myth -- L'Invitation au voyage"
Speaker: Michael Parke-Taylor, Assistant Curator, European Art at the AGO.
Location: The Education Theatre, Art Gallery of Ontario.
Cost of lectures:
Thursday, May 16 - The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting an all-Russian programme at 8:00 p.m. at Massey Hall. The conductor is Gennady Rozhdestvensky with pianist Viktoria Postnikova, and music by Rimsky-Korsakov, Schnittke and Rachmaninoff.
Prices for symphony tickets will be sent to members on the Toronto Chapter mailing list in the near future.
News from Montreal
A meeting of interested people took place on November 26 at the home of Mrs. Ethel Kesler. Dr. Sean Murphy, a Director of the State Hermitage Museum Foundation of Canada, and your President, Doris Smith, spoke about the need to start a Montreal Chapter in time for "The Voyage into Myth -- L'Invitation au voyage", the next exhibition from the Hermitage Museum, to be shown at the
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in the spring of 2003. There is great interest in launching the Chapter's first public event in September 2002.
If you know of anyone who would like to join the Montreal Chapter, please contact our National Office at (613) 236-1116.
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Annual General Meeting
The annual general meeting of the Canadian Friends of the Hermitage will be held on Saturday, April 20, 2002 at 10:00 a.m. in room 156 at the National Library of Canada, 395 Wellington Street, in Ottawa.
The agenda for this meeting will include reports on the past year's activities and a look ahead. Members are urged to participate in the election of the National Executive Committee. Copies of proposed by-laws will be mailed to members in early March.
Two items of business have been dealt with by the Board of The State Hermitage Museum Foundation at their annual general meeting in November 2001: the Friends' budget for 2002 was approved by them, and the National Friends' President, Doris Smith, was confirmed in that position for 2002.
Mr. Robert Kaszanits, President of The State Hermitage Museum Foundation of Canada, will give an illustrated talk on "Our Dream to Help the Hermitage is Under Way".
A reception follows.
If you wish to put your name forward as a candidate for election to the National Executive Committee, or if you know of a candidate for nomination to the Executive, please complete the enclosed write-in ballot/proxy and send it to The Nominating Committee, Canadian Friends of the Hermitage, 280 Metcalfe Street, Suite 400, Ottawa, ON K2P 1R7.
Members of the Nominating Committee are:
According to By-law 11.2, the Nominating Committee will bring its recommendations to the Members three weeks prior to the next Annual General Meeting. Additional nominations will be accepted two weeks prior to the Annual General Meeting. No nominations from the floor will be accepted.
The following names are put forward by the Nominating Committee in nomination for Officers and for Members-at-Large on the National Executive. All nominees have agreed to serve if elected.
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Travel with Friends
Baltic Capitals and St. Petersburg
Join Tallinn-born Doris Smith, President of the Canadian Friends of the Hermitage, on a special tour for members of Canadian Friends of the Hermitage. Included will be return air by Austrian Airlines from Ottawa, Montreal or Toronto with 3 nights in Riga, 3 nights in Tallinn, 6 nights
in St. Petersburg, one night in Vienna. Conveniently located, first-class hotels. Cost: $4,995.
To receive additional information and to register, please contact: Jean
Sheikh, Executive Worldwide Travel, 60 Queen Street, Suite 202, Ottawa ON
K1P 5Y7, or phone (613) 236-5555, 1-800-267-5552.
Museums in Russia
Nearly 3,000 museums, over 50 million cultural artefacts, yet virtually no voice: this has been the sad state of Russian museums ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union. But recently momentum has been gathering to form a Museums' Union, in an effort to make the concerns of memory institutions heard by Russia's powers-that-be.
A special Organizing Committee, headed by Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage Museum, is leading the push. The proposed union would coordinate the work of museums across the country, as well as help develop recommendations and advice regarding issues such as fundraising and merchandising. These are relatively new concepts to many Russian museum officials, who cut their teeth under the state-funded Soviet system.
The non-governmental, non-profit organization will initially focus on developing modifications to existing laws
in order to make them better correspond to the current situation. Museum staffers have long complained that instructions issued by the Culture Ministry are impractical or impossible to implement, but to no avail. Union organizers believe that proposals for change will be better received coming from a unified front as opposed to individual voices.
It is also hoped that the new union would facilitate the revival of exhibit exchanges between the country's museums. Such programs thrived during the Soviet era, but quickly became a victim of a cash-starved government.
At press time, organizers were awaiting the outcome of the founding congress, held recently in St. Petersburg, before laying out more precise plans. They claimed that by the end of October, almost 300 museums from across Russia had pledged to join the union.
Reprinted with permission from "Muse" Vol XX/1
Evening at Carleton
On November 14, 2001, the Canadian Friends of the Hermitage and Carleton University hosted a Russian cultural evening at the Carleton Art Gallery with the participation of Russian Studies' students from Ottawa's two universities. Presentations by students and faculty members included poetry recitations, performances of Russian folk songs and classical music, as well as a reading of the first act from Anton Chekhov's play, The Seagull.
The evening was well received by the audience which included representatives of the Embassy of the Russian Federation. The evening concluded with a reception. The enthusiastic response to this event has encouraged students from both universities to plan a similar evening for this fall.
Hermitage Day Dinner
Our dinner in Ottawa on December 4th was a great success. We regret we had to disappoint so many of our Friends because we sold out so early. Next year we'll have room for everybody.
The silent auction raised $785.50. Our thanks to the generous bidders and to the organizers, Tamara Galko and Nancy Scarth! This money will help to pay for public events such as the Van Vlasselaer pre-concert talk and our educational high school and university programs.