What common ground could there possibly be between a viral Polish TikTok rap song about cats and the grand Winter Palace halls of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg? A lot it turns out when the museum’s legendary cats are thrown into the mix.
A video of the cats prowling around the former residence of Russia’s tsars set to the song's pounding beat has gone viral on TikTok and Instagram in their own right, with credit given to Polish musician Mateusz Jarząbek’s original post, as the Hermitage continues to improve its social media marketing. The museum joined TikTok in July 2021 and its Instagram posts gained a wide following during Covid-19 lockdown. Due to the Omicron wave in Russia, as of 28 January only those aged 18 and over with a state-sanctioned Covid QR code are allowed entry into the Hermitage.
Felines became a palace fixture at the Hermitage on the orders of Empress Elisabeth Petrovna, the daughter of Peter the Great, so as to control the building's mice and rat population. More recently, the museum has promoted them as fortune tellers for football game results.
In November 2021, in an official ceremony, the Hermitage transferred one of its cats, Seraphima, for service at the Peter and Paul Cathedral, part of the State Museum of the History of St Petersburg.