There is nothing quite like a home-cooked meal, and table decor is a noteworthy detail to a well-executed gathering.

The Russian Imperial court was a place of enormous opulence during the 18th and 19th centuries, especially at formal banquets. Tables groaned with crystal, silver, and gold, and as many as 300 different dishes. A taste of this is available at the Hermitage Amsterdam.

The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg easily holds its own among the world’s preeminent cultural institutions. It is a treasure house and a guardian of masterpieces. “The rest of the world wants what we have,” says Dr. Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the museum. Now, the institution is celebrating the opening of a new branch, the Hermitage Amsterdam, on June 20, 2009.