On 28 September 2012, the Medals of Dishonour exhibition was opened at the Menshikov Palace (University emb.,15), which has been prepared by the State Hermitage Museum and the British Museum with support from Metabolic Studio, Los Angeles.
The British Museum's Medals of Dishonour exhibition was held in London in 2009 and has been expanded with additional items from the State Hermitage Museum collection – presenting a new version of the exhibition.
The exhibition includes about 150 items displaying the artwork of medals of a particular genre, little known to the broader public – medals that portrait a negative view of historical events.
Arising during the Italian Renaissance and quickly spreading through Europe, medallic art was used to glorify the merits and achievements of the powerful and leading personalities. Thanks to the ability to produce large numbers of these items, medals became an effective way of informing the public about events that had taken place: military victories and changes in government; it was also a means of propaganda for new ideas, being an original approach to mass communication for that period. This function for medals served as the forerunner for the appearance of satirical medals, casting aspersions on the achievements of others, and critiquing social and religious ideas. A bright example of this were the humorous, anti-papal medals distributed in Germany during the Reformation, and later imitated with similar medal with depictions of Cromwell and the frenetic Fairfax as the devil.
As a whole the exhibition gives an interesting overview of this particular branch of medallic art over the course of five centuries, examining its appearance as an unconventional point of view, sometimes directly opposing the purpose of medals as an official, historical document.
The museum is opened every day from 10:30 am till 6 pm except Monday.