The State Hermitage (Russian: Государственный Эрмитаж) is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the largest and oldest museums of the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and open to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display, comprise nearly 3 million items, including the largest collection of paintings in the world. The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors. Apart from them, the Menshikov Palace, Museum of Porcelain, Storage Facility at Staraya Derevnya and the eastern wing of the General Staff Building are also part of the museum. The museum has several exhibition centers abroad. The Hermitage is a federal state property. Since 1990, the director of the museum has been Mikhail Piotrovsky.
Out of six buildings of the main museum complex, four, namely the Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage and New Hermitage, are partially open to the public. The other two are Hermitage Theatre and the Reserve House. The entrance ticket for foreign tourists costs several times as much as the fee paid by Russian citizens. However, the entrance is free of charge the first Thursday of every month for all visitors and daily for students and children. The museum is closed on Mondays. Entrance is in the Winter Palace from Palace Embankment or the Courtyard.