Henri Matisse - The State Hermitage Museum Henri Matisse - The State Hermitage Museum A visitor takes a picture of Henri Matisse's painting "Dance" at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2010. (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Countries trade masterpieces in historic collaboration

Tel Aviv Museum of Art exchanging paintings and sculptures with Russia’s State Hermitage Museum.

Exchanges between museums are fairly common in the art world, but most happen so quietly and without fanfare that they don't warrant much discussion. Once in a while, however, an exchange takes place that marks an important cultural moment for both of the museums involved.

While the actual trade is a year away, the recent announcement that a new partnership has been formed between the State Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art means that people in both countries will get to see some amazing artwork up close for the very first time. Formed last year, the Hermitage Museum Foundation Israel has paved the way for the historic collaboration between the two museums.

Henri MatisseA gallery assistant views "Grande Decoration aux masques" by Henri Matisse in London. (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

The artwork trade is set to commence in June 2015, when Russia's State Hermitage Museum will send several of Henri Matisse's classic works, including "Game of Bowls" and "Young Woman in a Blue Blouse," to the Tel Aviv Museum. In exchange, it will receive Israel's collection of sculptures by Russian artist Alexander Archipenko.

"I am honored and delighted with this collaboration with the Hermitage, one of the world's largest and most important museums," said Suzanne Landau, director and chief curator of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. "It is part of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art's move towards various collaborations with museums worldwide."

For some in Israel, this may be the first time they get to see an original Matisse up close. And while the trade is for a short term, the cultural significance of seeing these masterpieces can last a lifetime.

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