Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Sunday 09 May |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Alexandru Rusu
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

More than 70 cats protect Hermitage Museum’s basements

HERMITAGE CAT

Wikipedia

Daniel Esparza - published on 05/02/17

The felines keep the collections safe by getting rid of any undesirable “guests.”

Saint Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum was founded in 1754 by the Catherine the Great, and opened to the public in 1852. Being one of the largest and oldest museums in the world, it is only natural that the Hermitage houses one of the world’s great collections: more than three million pieces, one third of them accounted for by the museum’s stamp collection alone. The Hermitage is home to the biggest painting collection on the planet, divided among the six impressive buildings that make up the whole complex.

Taking into account that only a minimum of the whole collection is on permanent display, preserving and storing these treasures is probably the main mission of this institution. In fact, the collections were seriously threatened in the early 18th century when a plague of mice infested the basements of the Winter Palace, a former residence of the Russian tsars that is now one of the buildings of the museum. Mice destroyed the imperial kitchen, and Elizabeth of Russia – who was empress then — brought in cats to patrol the palace.

As kittens succeeded kittens, the empress decided to keep the cats permanently, to keep vermin at bay. They’ve been there ever since.

The Hermitage cats were not well treated during the Soviet era, especially during the famine that followed World War II, and for a time they deserted their habitat. Felines were reintroduced to the museum in the mid-1950s, as rats had taken advantage of the room to prosper. The Hermitage cats are now under a special protection program begun in the 1990s, and the museum administration constantly recruits stray cats to join their ranks, sponsoring meals and vet care. Visitors, in turn, can adopt a Hermitage cats themselves, should they want to take home a kitten well-versed in the history of art.

Tags:
Art
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
2
MOTHER OF ASIA - TOWER OF PEACE
J-P Mauro
Philippines finishes construction of largest Marian statue in the...
3
FIRST LOOK
Sarah Robsdottir
Dad’s priceless reaction to newborn goes viral
4
OUR LADY OF FATIMA,SUN
Philip Kosloski
Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima for healing and strength
5
CHURCH
Philip Kosloski
What are the 4 different parts of the Mass?
6
I.Media for Aleteia
These 30 shrines will lead the Rosary Relay for end of the pandem...
7
PRAY
Philip Kosloski
3 Signs of a spiritual attack on your soul
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.