Our Initiatives

Hermitage Photograph Conservation

The Hermitage Photograph Conservation Initiative helps establish a department of photograph conservation at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Through a grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, the initiative provides training, reference materials, cataloging, digital documentation, and equipment.

The four-year project began in March of 2010, and combines the efforts of multiple organizations, disciplines, and languages to train Hermitage conservators, curators, technicians, and museum personnel, with the ultimate goal of preserving the Hermitage’s outstanding collections that number in excess of 470,000 photographs.

Visit the Hermitage Photograph Conservation Initiative Website

The Hermitage group tours the conservation labs at the Library of Congress. L to R: Tatiana Sayatina, Aleksandra Davydova, Natalia Laytar, Irina Terentyeva. Photo by Richard Herbert

"This project offered an opportunity to put conservation and conservators front and center, leading a major, high profile initiative at one of the world's great collecting institutions. Its success has not only elevated the status of conservation within the Hermitage but broadly demonstrates how effective conservators can be working with experts across areas of specialization, such as curators, registrars, scientists, and museum administrators. 

This initiative deepened my understanding of the universality of photography as a medium. Of course the Hermitage has some of the world's great works by Michelangelo, DaVinci, Rembrandt, and on and on. But even in this context, photographs represent the memory of the culture and are vital to the mission of the institution. It was amazing to see how powerful the drive to preserve this memory is and how it cuts across cultural, economic, and political divides."
- Paul Messier, Co-Director of the Hermitage Initiative in Photograph Conservation