Hermitage to Be Open Round the Clock and Free of Charge During St. Petersburg's 300th Anniversary

The Hermitage - one of the world's greatest museums - will be open round the clock and free of charge during St. Petersburg's tercentenary celebrations in May 2003. However, life for the Hermitage's employees will be complicated by the fact that, during the celebrations, Palace Square, where the museum is located, will host all the loudest concerts devoted to the city's tercentenary.

The organisers of the festivities are worried that the square may be cut off from the city by a stage, marquees and other attributes of large pop concerts. A proposal has already been made to move some of the celebratory events to other squares in St. Petersburg.

Mikhail Piotrovsky, the Director of the State Hermitage and the President of the World-Wide Club of Petersburgers, has also revealed that a somewhat unusual meeting of the club will take place in London on November 10, 2002 as part of the '300 Years of St. Petersburg: Russia, Open to the World' exhibition.

November 8 will mark exactly 200 days until the city's anniversary. This date coincides with the start of the exhibition, where the St. Petersburg section - 'The City, Open to the World' - will occupy the majority of the famous Barbican Centre in London. The stands devoted to St. Petersburg's science and industry, history, and culture are intended to return the city its status of Northern Capital. Not surprisingly, the exhibition is being compared with Peter the Great's visit to Britain.

Mikhail Piotrovsky also announced that 'at the London meeting we will admit into the club several people who have already done a lot for the city in building marine, economic, and cultural links between Russia and Great Britain.'

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