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The book Culture as Scandal: The Hermitage Story


A Russian-language edition of the book Culture as Scandal: The Hermitage Story has now been published, translated from the English by Irina Litvinova (Kul’tura kak skandal. Iz istorii Ermitazha –Moscow, Slovo publishers, 2023). It tells of real and imaginary scandals associated with the Hermitage and how they have influenced its fate.

Major museums always have many legends, intrigues and scandals connected with them. Some are totally unfounded, others not without grounds, while a third group have been turned upside down, with an underlying cause that might be political, cultural or even economical. How can we sort out this plethora of contradictory information and distinguish truth from lies?

Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the Hermitage, and the British journalist Geraldine Norman, a long-time friend of the museum, engage in a dialogue in the course of which they analyse the long history of the Hermitage through the scandals that inevitably arose both 300 years ago and in the present day. Two voices – the insider and the outside observer, from different countries and different worlds.

Over many years, Geraldine Norman and Mikhail Piotrovsky worked in tandem on cultural projects and frequently discussed the latest scandals in the art world. The idea of writing a history of them first arose as a joke, but in the course of reflection on the material it acquired an ever more serious character.

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