The Amsterdam Hermitage Art Museum, an outpost of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, announced on Thursday it was officially “severing ties” with the Russian institution in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Due to our carefully built relationship … we had access to one of the world’s most famous art collections that we could use to complement our exhibitions,” the Dutch museum said in a statement.
The museum continued that management had attempted to remain politically neutral but “the recent attack by Russia on Ukraine means that neutrality is no longer tenable.”
During its almost 20-year collaboration with St. Petersburg, the Dutch Hermitage, which first mounted exhibitions in the city in 2004 and moved to its current home on the banks of the Amstel river in 2009, had largely abstained from commenting on Russian politics. The siege of Ukraine launched in February “crossed a line,” according to the museum, however it is open to reforging ties if “Russia changes.”
The museum has closed its current exhibition of Russian avant-garde art until further notice. The show, “Russian Avant-Garde | Revolution in the Arts,” was produced in cooperation with St. Petersburg and features 500 objects, including pieces by Kazimir Malevich and Wassily Kandinsky. The Dutch institution has often drew from the large holdings of the St. Petersburg institution, which counts more than 17,000 paintings alone, to mount its exhibition.
In addition to the Amsterdam location, the Hermitage’s international outposts also include two in Russia: the Hermitage Kazan and the Hermitage-Vyborg Center. In January, the museum retreated from a planned expansion to Barcelona in the face of years-long local opposition and the growing prospect of a court battle over development. At the time, 23 Spanish provincial capitals, including Madrid, in addition to a dozen other European cities, had expressed interest in hosting a branch of the Hermitage.
Similarly, other institutions and artists have also called off collaborations with Russian institutions around the world. On February 28, Herman Parzinger, head of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in Berlin, said that the German institution was halting its collaborations with Russian partners on hold, according to Monopol. Earlier this week, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier pulled funding from a traveling exhibition, “Diversity United,” which is currently on view in Russia, and Dutch artist Constant Dullaart called for the removal of his installation from the exhibition.
The Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, the subject of the inaugural show at the V-A-C Foundation’s latest gallery, the GES-2 in Moscow, closed the performance art installation “Santa Barbara – A Living Sculpture” early. “It is not possible to have this work when this horror begins,” Kjartansson told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service – Ríkisútvarpið, calling Russia a “fascist state.”