The Center was opened in 2005, but its history dates back to 1997, to a joint project of the State Hermitage (St. Petersburg) and the Republic of Tatarstan – it was then that an exhibition titled the Treasures of Khan Kubrat was opened. The fully-fledged Hermitage Center was opened to mark Kazan's millennium celebrations. The Center is housed in the southern half of the third floor of the former Cadets' Institute in the Kazan Kremlin. It began exhibiting to the public with an exhibition titled “The Golden Horde. History and Culture.”
Works by French Impressionists, as well as paintings, sculptures and graphic works from the 17th-20th centuries were brought here from the Petersburg Hermitage's collection. Muslim art is also featured: a major event at the Center was a joint project with London's Victoria and Albert Museum, an exhibition of works by the finalists of the V&A Jameel Prize, an international modern art and design competition inspired by Islamic traditions. Exhibitions by contemporary artists are by no means a rarity here.
Fascinating educational evenings are often held in the lecture hall, where diverse aspects of art are discussed, from Egyptian frescoes to the Banksy phenomenon. Discussions with the participation of art experts are also regularly hosted.