The second season of Museum Secrets kicked off yesterday, taking viewers inside the State Hermitage Museum in St.Petersburg, Russia. For those unfamiliar with the show, Museum Secrets takes look at the fascinating and sometimes hidden stories of museums from around the world. Beyond just talking about the items held in these museums, this show gives you a history of the museum itself.
The State Hermitage Museum is a great example of how the walls itself have their own stories to tell – from its beginnings as a palace of Catherine the Great, to how the museum endured the siege of Leningrad during the Second World War (and how the museum’s cats did not endure the war).
The stories in this show included Scythian tattoos, Peter the Great’s macabre anatomy collection, Catherine the Great’s sex life and this odd little painting, which is just a square of black, but is worth a million dollars. The most interesting piece for me, however, was the story about Rasputin and his mysterious death. The Hermitage owns a portrait of the famous Russian mystic, which they do not display publicly – actually it seems to be kept at the very back of the storeroom. The show goes on to explain the recently developed theory that Rasputin was actually assassinated by a British spy, which I had a vaguely known about, but it did it in a great way and was fascinating to watch.
Some of our readers might be wondering why a site about the Middle Ages is reviewing a show that doesn’t have very much about the medieval period. Although other episodes will deal with medieval topics, I am just as interested in the other periods of history – from ancient to modern – because I think learning about these parts of history also helps me learn about the Middle Ages. The same holds true for books, articles and other videos – the more you understand about history in general, the more it helps give you context about the periods you are interested in.
Museum Secrets is a wonderful show, which reminds me why I enjoy history so much. I am now very much looking forward to seeing the rest of this season’s episodes.