Tumultuous events of 1917, the year of the Russian Revolution, changed a lot for the Winter Palace and the Hermitage. In February 1917 Tsar Nicholas II abdicated. After that the Provisional Government, which became the highest authority in Russia, installed itself in the Winter Palace, moving into what had been the private rooms of Nicholas II and his wife. This occupation was not very long. In October of the same year the Bolshevik Party led by Vladimir Lenin overthrew the Provisional Government. Bolshevik forces stormed the Winter Palace and arrested the ministers. Soon after that the new authorities announced that the Winter Palace would become a museum and a few years later, after the end of the Russian Civil War in 1921, the Hermitage was reopened with the Winter Palace as its part.
During the Soviet period of the Russian history the Hermitage collection was expanded even more, incorporating art from nationalised private collections. On the other hand, some works were sold abroad by the Soviet government to finance industrialization of the country. Today the Hermitage Museum continues to be one of the most famous museums of the world, attracting several millions of visitors each year.
Several other buildings in Saint Petersburg also belong to the State Hermitage Museum. One is the General Staff building that stands opposite the Winter Palace across the Palace Square. The collection displayed in the General Staff Building is dedicated to Russian and European decorative art, paintings and sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries. Highlights of this collection include paintings by Matisse, Picasso, Malevich and Kandinsky. Another of the buildings belonging to the Hermitage is Menshikov Palace. Alexander Menshikov, a man of humble origins, became the most trusted associate and friend of Emperor Peter the Great and the first governor of Saint Petersburg. His palace, construction of which began in 1710 and was finished in 1727, was one of the very first buildings in Saint Petersburg. Today, inside you can see decorative and applied art from the State Hermitage collection representing Russian culture in the 18th century.
The Hermitage collection is so vast and diverse that one needs at least 5 hours to even walk through all rooms of the museum. This is why a guided tour may be indispensable for a tourist who wants to see the highlights of the collections and not miss any interesting exhibit. If you're interested in a private tour or a small group tour of the State Hermitage Museum with a highly knowledgeable licensed guide order one at Walks with Folks (the entrance ticket is included).