Spectators take snapshots of animals and art at Hermitage

Animals crackled with excitement and curiosity as they tossed in their heads what could have been a piece of art. Hermitage President Dmitry Rybolovlev, English curator Sarah Wilson and local curator Yulia Vysotskaya pulled…

Spectators take snapshots of animals and art at Hermitage

Animals crackled with excitement and curiosity as they tossed in their heads what could have been a piece of art.

Hermitage President Dmitry Rybolovlev, English curator Sarah Wilson and local curator Yulia Vysotskaya pulled about 80 stuffed animals from a dresser drawer at St. Petersburg’s renowned Hermitage Museum.

They had to wait until the general public had gone home before they could pull them out and photograph them for an exhibition called “Athletes and the Art of Sporting Dreams.”

The animals in question came from four different eras: Old Germany, Spain, St. Petersburg and, of course, the United States.

“There is a place in the Eighteenth Century where all the horses and the horses were brought, from the days when horses had to take important paintings off, and to take them back home,” Rybolovlev says.

“And they are the ones that were the catalyst for all the horses in Russia.”

Volkswagen

The Russian billionaire, who owns the NFL’s New England Patriots and Ligue 1 side Nice, says he and curator Sarah Wilson think it’s interesting to use one’s animals to inspire.

There is one animal in particular that intrigues him.

“I think the one that really fascinated me is the rhino,” he says.

“It was a new discovery for us because we had never seen this type of animal before.”

Volkswagen

Just like the animals, the difference in ages between Old Germany and St. Petersburg, where the exhibition is set, could well make a difference in how one sees a piece of art.

“The earlier (works) are still quite difficult to see, you know, on the scale of a horse,” says Wilson.

“Whereas the later works are quite easy to appreciate because of the incredible size of the works.”

Rostelecom

Now that the animals have settled down into their new home, there’s a challenge on Rybolovlev’s plate.

A group of bears, six big polar bears in particular, have already stolen their new home.

One of the curator’s kittens has already climbed the stairs to reach them.

A ‘natural’ find

“In any case, it’s not really safe for a young polar bear (to go anywhere) anymore, so I’m keeping very close (contact) with this bunny, this guy, because I believe that once a bear stays in a place that they know … that they’ve been fed by humans, that’s where they belong,” says Wilson.

“I’m always the kind of person that likes to prove, ‘Well I found him!’ It’s more than just common sense, it’s really logical.”

Fiat

Upstairs on the second floor of the Hermitage is a shop to sale outsize stuffed animals, like those from Old Germany, which the tourists have long recognised as “candles,” and from Russia’s tamer roots, in the Soviet era.

“At least half of my museum is a stuffed animal museum,” says Wilson.

Volkswagen

“In some sense, I think it was a natural route.

“I think the museum created for stuffed animals was actually one of the original museums of Europe at the beginning of the 1900s. It was unique — and I’m not exaggerating — I think they have never really been copied again.

“Particularly the [hermitage exhibition] is unique because it celebrates both sports and animals.”

Leave a Comment