‘I’m ashamed’: Hermitage Museum’s director of contemporary art resigns over Russian war in Ukraine
Curator Dmitry Ozerkov, who headed the contemporary art department at the Hermitage Museum of Russia, resigned from his post due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ozerkov, who had been at the St. Petersburg museum for more than 20 years, explained his decision in a lengthy Instagram post, writing “I left because I don’t intend to have anything in common with today’s Russia”.
Ozerkov deleted the associated photo from his social media account in February, after Putin invaded Ukraine. “I’m ashamed to look others in the eye because of today’s news,” he wrote.
In the months that followed, he did not post on his account and hinted that he only returned to social media after quitting his job. “I’m back on Instagram, I’m no longer an employee of the Hermitage,” he said. He explained that although he made the decision to resign “after the start of the war”, it was made final after reading a June interview with Mikhail Piotrovsky, the Hermitage’s general manager, in the newspaper of the Russian government. Rossiiskaya Gazeta.
In the interview, Piotrovsky referred to the war in official parlance as a “special military operation” and went on to express his support saying, “Our country is carrying out great global transformations…and we are making them. so gone and with her.”
Piotrovsky went on to condemn international partners who spoke out against Russia’s invasion, who “suddenly severed ties” and “stabbed in the back” the Hermitage and other Russian cultural institutions.
Ozerkov joined the museum’s contemporary art department in 2006 to inject new life into “the old collection”, he said, describing it as “an ambitious and powerful project” that was “founded on dialogue and mutual respect of languages and countries, nationalities and religions, history and modernity.
That respect, he wrote, “stopped meaning anything in Russia” when it sent troops to Ukraine and replaced news with propaganda.
Ozerkov also resigned from his position as head of the master’s program in arts and sciences at ITMO University and from his position on the Saint Petersburg city council of culture.
In a later post, the curator posted an image of an unnamed town in the Middle East, writing, “Love the locals very much.” Like so many others fleeing the country right now, he told the art diary that “Leaving Russia was more important than going somewhere.”
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