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French Man Leaves Money in His Will for the Cats Living in Russia’s Hermitage Museum

News Museums
by Eben Diskin Dec 8, 2020

It’s not uncommon for generous donors to leave money to a museum or cultural institution. It’s less common, however, for them to leave money to the cats who live in those institutions.

A French man has recently left a sum of money in his will to the 50 cats residing in the famous Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The museum, which is home to three million works of art, artifacts, and sculptures, is also home to the felines.

Cats have been residents of the Hermitage Museum since the 18th century, when Catherine the Great designated them as guardians of the art galleries. Now they’re largely cared for by volunteers and museum staff.

Mikhail Piotrovsky, the museum’s general director, said in a press conference, “Our French friend did a very good thing; this is brilliant PR for both the cats and charity. The sum is not very big but it’s very important when the person writes a will, when the French lawyers contact (us) and it’s all not a simple (process) but this is all very interesting, isn’t it?”

The money will probably be used to repair the museum’s basement, where the cats live. Others have previously left money for the cats, including Vladimir Fortov, former president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who would often stop by and leave money for the basement-dwellers.

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