The Menshikov Palace on Vasilyevsky Island was one of the very first buildings in Saint Petersburg. Construction began in 1710 and was finished in 1727 due to a multi-staged building process. Many western European architects and craftsmen were involved in the project, including Francesco Fontana, Johann Gottfried Schädel, Domenico Trezzini, Carlo Bartolomeo Rastrelli, Georg Johann Mattarnovi and Jean-Baptiste Leblond.
The palace is an outstanding example of Petrine Baroque architecture, with characteristic symmetry and simplicity of dimensions, high gabled roofs, two-toned facades and small glass windows. The exterior walls are decorated with pillars and on the top of the risalits of the central building there are gables with enormous regal crowns. The grand entrance takes the form of a stone portal, accentuated by a portico above which a balcony is set.
The rooms are decorated using marble, decorative paintings and moldings, sculptures, carved and inlaid wood, Dutch cobalt tiles and Russian glazed tiles, painted and embossed leather and expensive drapery and tapestries. A. D. Menshikov, the first governor of Saint Petersburg, placed his collections of paintings, sculptures, applied art, books and numismatic works in his great palace.
The original Petrine interior of the Menshikov Palace is recreated using works of decorative and applied art from the State Hermitage collection in the exhibition "Russian Culture in the First Third of the 18th Century".