The State Hermitage Museum is situated in the center of St Petersburg, Russia. The Hermitage, formerly the Winter Palace of the tsars, is one of the world's great fine arts museums.
In 1764, Catherine the Great (reigned 1762 - 1796), who was a Francophile art lover and avid collector, encouraged painting, and created the Hermitage Museum; at the beginning as her private collection; at that time, Empress Catherine purchased a collection of 225 Flemish and Dutch paintings from the Berlin merchant Johann Ernest Gotzkowski.
In the middle of the 19th century the New Hermitage was the first Russian museum founded by Emperor Nicholas I to make the art collections of Russian tsars accessible to the public. 
The collection of the Hermitage Museum contains 2,970,214 items, including 16,851 paintings and 12,623 sculptures. Antiquities is one of the oldest departments of the museum, it covers Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and the Northern Black Sea, and has a collection of 106,000 items, ranging from 2000 BC to the 4th century AD. 
At the State Hermitage Museum, over 180,000 items including paintings, sculptures and examples of applied art, give an idea of a remarkable cultural heritage of the Orient from the time of the ancient civilizations emergence to the present. The exhibitions occupying 50 museum rooms contain the collections of items from Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Central Asia, Byzantium, countries of the Near and Far East. Oriental art. State Hermitage Museum.
Famous masterpieces at the Museum
Carlino Dolci, Santa Cecilia, Second half of the 1640s.
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, La Asunción de la Virgen, 1670.
Rembrandt, The Return of the Prodigal Son, ca. 1661–1669.
Antonio Canova, Cupid's Kiss, 1796.