The museum was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and its collections, of which only small parts is on permanent display, including the largest collection of paintings in the world.
The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along the Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace which was the former residence of Russian emperors; and other buildings like Menshikov Palace. The collection holds Western European art collections including European paintings, sculpture and applied art from the 13th to 20th centuries, displayed in approximately 120 rooms on the first and second floor of the main buildings. Other collections include Egyptian antiques, classical antiques, and prehistoric art.
Catherine’s original collections included works of art from Rembrant, Rubens, Jacob Jordaens, Raphael, Holbein and others. Throughout her lifetime, Catherine collected over 4,000 paintings, 38,000 books, 10,000 engraved gems, 10,000 drawings and 16,000 coins among many other features and works of art.
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