Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovski was born in Yerevan in 1944. His father, Boris Borisovich Piotrovski, an eminent archaeologist, was Director of The State Hermitage Museum from 1964 till 1990.
In 1967 graduated with honors from the Oriental Faculty of Leningrad State University, specializing in Arabic Studies. Underwent a study course at the Cairo University in 1965-1966. From 1967 to 1991 Mikhail Borisovich worked in the Leningrad branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies, where he obtained his doctorate in history. In 1991 was invited to join the Hermitage staff as the First Deputy Director. In July 1992 he was appointed Director of the Museum by a decree of the Prime Minister.
Dr. Piotrovski has taken part in archaeological excavations in the Caucasus, Central Asia and Yemen. He is an author of more than 250 works including catalogues of Arabic manuscripts, publications of Medieval monuments and ancient inscriptions, works on Islamic political history and Arabic culture, archeology of Arabia. Among them: series of articles devoted to the Muslim mythology in The Encyclopedia of World Mythology, series of articles about the prophet Muhammad and the monographs: The Legend of the Himyarite King As’ad al-Kamil (1977), Fundamentals of Arab-Islamic Art (1984), Southern Arabia in the Early Middle Ages (1985), Yemen before Islam and in the First Centuries of the Hijra (1987), Tales of the Koran (1991), Islam: An Encyclopaedia (a co-author, 1991). The Hermitage: Essays on the History of the Collection (a co-author, 1997); Earthy Art – Heavenly Beauty. Art of Islam (an editor, 2000); On Islamic Art (2001), The Great Collections of the Great Museum. The Hermitage (2003); The Hermitage in the Great Museums of the World series (2003); The Historical Legends of the Koran (2005), The Islamic Art. Between China and Europe (2008), The View from the Hermitage (2009, 2014), The Two Holy Sites Regained. Futuh al-Haramayn (2011), My Hermitage in Russian and English (2014, 2015), For Museums There Are No Taboos (2016).
Dr. Piotrovski is an author and a presenter of a TV series My Hermitage shown on the State Russian TV channel (250 series), My Hermitage – 250 (30 series), an author of the regular column The View from the Hermitage in the Sankt-Peterburgskie Vedomosti newspaper (two books of these articles have been issued).
Dr. Piotrovski is Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, member of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences, member of the Russian Academy of Arts. A member of the Council under the President of the Russian Federation for Culture and Art (in 2001 – 2011 was a Deputy Chairman of the Council) and the Council under the President of the Russian Federation for Science and Education.
Professor of the St. Petersburg State University, were he chairs two departments – “Museology” and “Ancient Orient History”, a Dean of Oriental faculty. Honorary Doctor of the Kazan State University, Honorary Doctor of the Saratov State University, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the European University in St. Petersburg.
Foreign member of the Armenian Academy of Sciences, an honorary member of the Academy of Sciences of Tatarstan. Corresponding member of the German Archaeological Institute, corresponding member of the Institut de France (Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres), and a foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
President of the Union of Museums of Russia, editor-in-chief of The Christian Orient magazine, the chairman of the St. Petersburg branch of the Imperial Russian Orthodox Palestine Society. President of the Worldwide Club of St. Petersburgers, chairman of the board of the 1st State TV channel (2001 – 2005).
In 2011 elected to the State Duma, gave up his mandate.
Has been awarded the Netherlands Order of Orange-Nassau (1996), the Russian Order of Honor (1997), the French Order of the Légion d’Honneur (1998, 2004), the Swedish Order of the Northern Star (1999), the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (2000, 2004), the Order of Saint Mesrop (Armenian Apostle Church, 2000), the Order of Yaroslav the Wise (Ukraine, 2003), the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2004), the Order of Service to the Fatherland (Russia, 2004, 2009), the Order of Honor Al-Fahr (the Council of Muftis of Russia, 2005), the Order of the Lion of Finland (2005); the Order of the Rising Sun (Japan, 2007); the Silver Medal of Amsterdam (2009); Woodrow Wilson Award, USA (2009); the Order of the Crown (Kingdom of Belgium, 2011); medal of Anatoliy Koni (Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, 2013), the Order of Alexander Nevsky (Russia, 2014); the Order of Merit for science and Arts (Austria, 2014), the Order of Service to the Republic of Tatarstan (2014), the Order of Francysk Skaryna (Belarus, 2014), the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (2015), the Order of Friendship (2016), the Medal of Argishti the First (Armenia, 2016).
In 2003 Mikhail Piotrovsky has been awarded the Presidential Prize in the Field of Art and Literature (Russia, 2003). In 2017 has been awarded the State Prize of Russia for his contribution to the preservation of national and world cultural heritage.
Winner of the public award “Sky Line”.
In 1997 a minor planet was named “Piotrovski” by the Astronomical Union in joint honor of Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovski and his father Boris Borisovich Piotrovski.
In May, 2011 Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovski was awarded the title of Honored Citizen of Saint Petersburg.
Mikhail Borisovich is married, has two children.
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