The State Hermitage Museum Foundation of Canada Inc. was established in 1998 out of concern for the preservation and security of the internationally important collections of art at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The uncertain economic climate of post-Soviet Russia has left the Hermitage to very much fend for itself. This it is doing with the assistance and good will of individuals and organizations like us determined not to see the works of the great European masters such as Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci lost to the world. This Foundation was also established on the premise that assisting the Hermitage could be beneficial for Canadians. This has proven true as is demonstrated by the resulting exhibition program which has brought millions in tourist revenues to Toronto and Montreal, much of it from the US.
The Canadian Foundation undertakes projects that have a tangible and immediate impact on the welfare of the collections in areas where we have expertise and where we know we can make a difference. We implement our own projects thus ensuring their success while offering complete transparency on the use of donated funds. To date, we have raised over $700,000 and have installed ultraviolet protection on the 2200 windows of the museum complex. Currently (2003), we are seeking support to catalogue the 2.8 million objects in the Hermitage collection. The Collection Inventory Project is based on the principle that a museum cannot ensure the well-being of its collection unless it knows what it has in its care and where the objects are located at any point in time. Our carefully prepared budget indicates the need to raise $300,000 each year for the next three years.
The Foundation is also interested in making these collections more accessible internationally for public enjoyment and for scholarly research. To this end, we have been instrumental in bringing world-class exhibitions such as Rubens and His Age and Voyage into Myth - Gauguin to Matisse to the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Under the direction of our distinguished Board, the Foundation sponsors various education programs designed to enrich the lives of Canadians. We sponsor three academic scholarships per year allowing the exchange of Canadian and Russian university students and scholars. Our school program brings the Hermitage into Canadian classrooms through the use of multi-media kits and through "School Net".
In 2000, we established the Canadian Friends of the Hermitage as the
membership, volunteer and education arm of the Foundation. The Friends has
active chapters in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, which bring local adult
programming to those cities and organizes tours to St. Petersburg each year.