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Opening of the New Permanent Exhibition “Europe in the Migration Period and Early Middle Ages”


On 1 December2017, as part of the Hermitage Days 2017, the museum’s new permanent exhibition “Europe in the Migration Period and Early Middle Ages” opened in the Winter Palace.

At the opening, Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage, said:

“Today we are opening the long-awaited permanent display of the Migration Period. This is an exhibition of remarkable historical artefacts full of austere barbarian, even European-barbarian, beauty that one could admire endlessly. At last, instead of crates here, in the Kutuzov Corridor, there are new showcases with exhibits devoted to a very important and – I’m not ashamed of the word – fashionable subject. This permanent display is devoted to highly topical questions in the history of Europe, and accordingly the history of Eurasia, which is what the Hermitage’s Department of Archaeology studies. The display is connected with what is being done in the museum, in the Department of the Archaeology of Eastern Europe and Siberia. Let me remind you that it was preceded by the exhibition “Merovingians” and “The Bronze Age” (from the series “A Europe without Borders”). Next year those will be followed by a splendid exhibition devoted to the Lombards. The Migration Period is all the remarkable history of the time of transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, so romantic and so interesting, full of archaeological, and not only archaeological, mysteries. We will be having many discussions, scholarly conferences, around this permanent display because this topic of peoples on the move and the nomads supplements our traditional accounts featuring the Turkic and Iranian-speaking Scythians.”

Sixteen display cases present archaeological artefacts that tell about the Migration Period of the late 4th to 6th centuries AD, an important and eventful historical era that was a transitional stage between Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (6th –10th centuries). For many European peoples, this was the time when their own culture arose, forming out of a synthesis of ethnic “barbarian” traditions and various elements of the Graeco-Roman legacy. The development of early mediaeval civilizations in Europe begins precisely after the completion of the turbulent migratory processes of this period and can be regarded as an outcome of them.

The display was prepared by the State Hermitage’s Department of the Archaeology of Eastern Europe and Siberia (headed by Andrei Yuryevich Alexeyev). Its curator is Alexei Gennadyevich Furasyev, leading researcher in that department.

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