Founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great, the Hermitage Museum is one of the largest museums in the world. In early 2000, it was decided that the eastern wing's General Staff Building (1820-30) should be converted into a museum of 19th and 20th century art, and an international architectural competetition was held. St Petersburg-based Studio 44 won the commission for the elegant manner with which it addressed the project's complexity, by preserving the integrity of the original design, adapting a ministry building into an exhibition space, incorporating 21st-century museum technologies and connecting to the main buildings and public areas of the city beyond. The centrepiece of the design is a breathtaking enfilade that will enthral visitors to the new space. The scale and dramatic outcome of the building provides a treasure trove of information and inspiration for architects, museum visitors, curators and anyone interested in Russia's rich cultural heritage, of which this building marks a new chapter.