On 2 December, within the framework of the St Petersburg International Cultural Forum, St Petersburg University (SPbU) and the State Hermitage signed a general strategic partnership agreement. The document was signed by SPbU Rector Nikolay Kropachev and the State Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky.

When opening the grand ceremony, SPbU Rector noted that the two institutions had a long-standing history of partnership and friendship. St Petersburg University and the State Hermitage implement many educational and scientific projects on a joint basis. Many SPbU graduates are employed by the Hermitage today and, not losing contact with their alma mater, pursue a teaching career. They supervise students' research and create unique educational programmes at the University.

"A symbolic thing is that it is today, within the framework of the International Cultural Forum, that we sign this general agreement," Nikolay Kropachev said. "Our joint work is crucial not only for the Hermitage and the University but also for the whole city, its culture and education." SPbU Rector gave a striking example of such effective cooperation: a joint project aimed at restoring and preserving the unique body of easel paintings from the Baron von Stieglitz mansion administered by the University. The 19th century paintings were restored by the Hermitage specialists and are now exhibited at the General Staff Building.

"St Petersburg University and the State Hermitage are divided by the Neva river and united by common history, culture and education," Nikolay Kropachev added.

Mikhail Piotrovsky noted the significance of the joint projects implemented by the Hermitage and the University, the two major phenomena of the Russian culture. The State Hermitage Director also expressed his gratitude to SPbU specialists for their expertise, including legal consulting, which is crucial for the activities of any modern museum.

"Legal regulation of our relations is an important step in the development of the global synthesis of cultural and scientific institutions," Mikhail Piotrovsky noted. "By signing this document, we contribute not only to our cooperation but also to the cultural development of Russia. It may become a pattern for such solutions."

Reference: In 2017 the cooperation between St Petersburg University and the State Hermitage will continue to develop in new directions, research and new museum initiatives being the key trends. The general agreement signed within the framework of the St Petersburg International Cultural Forum provides for the development of integrated educational programmes, organisation and implementation of the Hermitage-based internships for SPbU students and staff, including expeditions organised by the State Hermitage.