The presidents opened and toured the exhibition Old Masters from the Hermitage. The President of Russia also made an entry in the distinguished visitors' book.
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Address at the opening of the exhibition Old Masters from the Hermitage at the Vienna Art History Museum
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Federal President, Mr Federal Chancellor, friends,
We are opening a unique exhibition of select masterpieces from two of the world’s greatest museums. This joint project of the State Hermitage Museum and the Vienna Art History Museum became reality with the support of the Russian company Gazprom, as Mr President has already said, and Austria’s OMV. This is a kind of gift to mark the anniversary of energy cooperation between the two countries.
I think the exhibition has an extraordinary and unique concept. It is a one-of-a-kind experiment. The Hermitage and the Vienna Art History Museum selected 14 paintings each by the most prominent masters of the 16th and 17th centuries.
These paintings are from the collections that used to belong to the Austrian and Russian imperial families. The masterpieces by Rembrandt, van Dyck, Rubens and other great artists were brought together in meaningful duos. I do not recall seeing anything like this before. I think this is the first project of this kind.
This could only be achieved by two of the world’s most outstanding museums that have big enough collections to pair these works in this way. Each duo is united by either the creator or a similar story or composition. I am certain that this project will be very popular with art lovers.
I would like to emphasise that during today’s meetings with Mr President and Mr Federal Chancellor we praised the current level of our countries’ interaction in culture and identified our short-term plans, including large-scale humanitarian events.
We are going to follow-up the Cross Year of Tourism, which has just come to a close, with the Year of Music in 2018, whereas 2019 will be marked by youth exchanges.
This exhibition will also be presented in St Petersburg in autumn. I am confident that alongside other joint cultural projects, it will further contribute to Russian-Austrian cooperation, and will serve to enhance friendship between our countries.
In conclusion, because this is indeed my last public address, I would like to sincerely thank Mr Federal Chancellor and Mr President for the truly friendly, very open business atmosphere they created during our joint work today.
I am sure that such commitment to interaction cannot but have good, positive and far-reaching consequences for our nations in all cooperation areas, including economic cooperation.
Events such as this one today will undoubtedly create the necessary atmosphere. It was very interesting for me to see the museum itself. I thought the Hermitage has no rivals in the world; however, I am now aware that there are rivals, and it is indeed a special element of pan-European cooperation. Mr Schroeder can take delight in the fact that in addition to the Dresden Opera, Gottfried Semper also built this wonderful, magnificent building especially for the museum.
Thank you very much for today’s event. I would like to thank the organisers of the exhibition and wish its visitors enjoyable impressions and all the very best.
Thank you for your attention.