Art museum in St. Petersburg founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great as a court museum. The museum is housed within five interconnected buildings, in the center of the city on the banks of the Neva, these are the Winter Palace, the Small Hermitage, the Old Hermitage, the Hermitage Theatre, and the New. Under Nicholas I the Hermitage was reconstructed by Leo von Klenze (1840-52), and it was opened to the public in 1852. Von Klenze designed the rooms of the New Hermitage with a complete absence of windows. Uniform color schemes and the use of skylights provided evenly diffused lighting, displaying art work its best effect. Following the October Revolution of 1917, the imperial collections became public property.