Recap: St. Petersburg’s Infamous Museum Night

Recap: St. Petersburg’s Infamous Museum Night
25 May 2017

Recap: St. Petersburg’s Infamous Museum Night

On the weekend after international museum day, most European countries one-up the annual event with a Museum Night (ночь музеев). Over 40 countries welcome visitors into nearly 2,000 museums for a cultural experience between dusk and dawn. This year, I got to experience the especially famous Museum Night of St. Petersburg.

Why does the event in Petersburg have a special place in every nigh owl/hardcore museumgoer’s heart? For one, St. Petersburg is the cultural capital of Russia. There are over 90(!) museums and pop-up galleries to choose from. Also (and more importantly, to those that don’t have the stamina or intension of checking every museum off the list), the date for Museum Night is conveniently set during the infamous white nights (белые ночи, beliye nochi) of St. Petersburg.

This year, the Petersburg museums kept their doors open from 6pm-6am. So, as absurd as it sounds, I decided that the perfect time to leave for the museum tour was shortly before midnight. Riding the metro towards the center felt as if I was doing so at any other point in time during the day. The moment I stepped out onto Nevsky Prospect, though, I was blown away by the sheer masses on the otherwise already busy street.

As the options during the Petersburg Museum Night are truly endless, we could have theoretically indulged in every art, history, scientific, or military exhibition our hearts desired. Beside that, there were also many museums, large and small, dedicated to more specific topics (such as the museum of soviet arcade machines).

My classmates and I decided to head towards the Palace Square (Дворцовая площадь), first, where we would try our luck with getting into the Hermitage Museum. To no one’s surprise, the line was ridiculous. Thankfully, the starting point for the special hop-on buses was right by the Square. Thus, we got on a bus at random and ended up at Loft Project Etagi (Лофт Проект ЭТАЖИ).

The wonderfully progressive cultural center displayed a National Geographic photo exhibition, where visitors could view stunning high definition images of wildlife and the cosmos. Of course, it wouldn’t have been an ЭТАЖИ exhibition without a progressive, hipster feel: The industrial gallery had swings hung in between images, and the organizers set up a nihilistic slam poetry stage in the lounge area. With all the boutiques and eccentric food stands being open all night (think: rainbow shawarma and waffles-on-a-stick), we completely lost track of time and ended up leaving ЭТАЖИ at 3am, at the height of our exhaustion.

Even those who don’t enjoy museum visits, or would rather go for a cultural journey during sane hours, can take advantage of the night. Simply roaming about the city is absolutely phenomenal, as it hardly gets dark and the streets are, arguably, even livelier than during the day. The big bonus of the night: Though the bridges open at around 2am as per usual, the metro system (as well as the buses in the center of Piter) run all night. No curfew for islanders!

Cynthia, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg

Posted by Cynthia Hunn

Hi! My name is Cynthia, and I am an intern and Russian language student at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg. I'm on the quest to find the best blini in town, so follow me along as I rediscover my childhood home country through a (slightly) more sophisticated perspective.

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