While strolling the vast hallways of the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, Russia, I constantly found myself comparing the artwork and architecture with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan.
Being an American and a Met Museum member (basically to be a member you donate a certain amount of money, then get to go to the Met for free for the year and other benefits), I would say I’m a little biased. Having recently visited both legendary museums, I’ve decided to write a comparison post to determine which museum is better.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art:
Founded in 1870, the Met is the largest art museum in the United States, at 2,000,000 square feet according to HumanitiesWeb. Being a member of the Met, I’ve visited the museum several times and have also joined one of their teen programs. The museum is so large that if you want to thoroughly see all of the art, you’d probably have to spend several years there.
The Hermitage Museum:
The Hermitage Museum is one of the largest museums in the world and was founded by Catherine the Great in 1764. Located in Saint Petersburg, Russia, the museum occupies the Winter Palace, which was the former home of the Russian royal family. Similar to the Met, the Hermitage has art from all around the world, including Egyptian art, classical European art and more.
When I visited the Hermitage, I was surprised that there wasn’t much Russian art, primarily Western European art. Despite that, the art inside the Hermitage didn’t disappoint. The Hermitage contains Italian and Spanish fine art, Italian Renaissance art, Prehistoric art and more. Notable pieces including the Crouching Boy sculpture by Michelangelo, several paintings by Rembrandt and Cliffs near Dieppe by Monet.
The paintings in the Hermitage by Leonardo da Vinci, such as the Benois Madonna and Madonna Litta, are by far the most popular in the entire museum. There was a crowd of people in front of the paintings when we were there.
The Met is home to American, Greek, Roman, Islamic, Medieval, Egyptian, Asian, African and Oceanic art. Just like the Hermitage, the Met contains much more than just paintings, including ancient artifacts (including an entire Egyptian temple), instruments and more. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is home to some truly legendary pieces, including Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze.
I’d say the Hermitage and the Met are equal in terms of art. Both museums have massive collections full of significant art pieces which would take days if not weeks to see.
There’s something about seeing art inside old buildings that makes the art look better. The Hermitage, the 15th most visited museum in the world, occupies the iconic turquoise Winter Palace, home of the Russian Tsars. The Winter Palace was built in the late 1730s with an Elizabethan Baroque style.
Walking around the Winter Palace was pretty much like walking around a castle, although most of the interior had been renovated due to destruction caused by the fire of 1837 and the Russian Revolution. The palace with its 1,500 rooms, 1,786 doors and 1,945 windows makes you feel like a spec of sand.
The architecture of the Met isn’t as captivating, although it is somewhat historical since it was made in the late 1800s. I guess that’s the downside of America not having a monarchy.
Admission to the Met on a ‘pay as you wish’ basis, however the recommended amount is $25 per person, and almost everyone seems to pay $25. Apparently paying 1 penny is acceptable, however visiting the Met is definitely worth the recommended $25. There is also an option to pay $6 to borrow a headset loaded with recorded explanations of the art pieces. If you plan to visit the Met often, it’s a good idea to become a Met Museum member. To become a member you donate a certain amount of money, then get to go to the Met for free for the year, get the headset for free and other benefits.
When I went to the Hermitage a few months ago, entrance tickets were included in our tour with Tucan Travel, but I did some research and found prices on the Hermitage website:
Information directly taken from the Hermitage site:
Tickets purchase at the museum’s ticket offices on the day of the visit
- 400 roubles – entry ticket to the Main Museum Complex
- 100 roubles – entry ticket to the exhibition complexes of the State Hermitage in Saint Petersburg
- 200 roubles – entry ticket to the General Staff Building
- Free entrance: preschool children, school children, students
400 roubles is less than USD $10 (right now, the conversion rate has been fluctuating a lot recently), which is less than half the cost of the Met if you pay the recommended $25.
Go to both museums.
The Met and The Hermitage both have amazing selections of art and if they aren’t there already, they should be on your bucket list. Being in the Winter Palace, the Hermitage’s architecture is top notch and the sheer size of the Met will leave you in awe.
Be sure to check out my other museum comparison post, The Met Museum vs The Guggenheim.
Which museum do you prefer? Leave your comment below.