This article explores the overlooked role of museums in the international arena as playing a dual role in cultural diplomacy. It explores the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to illustrate an emerging ‘hybrid’ form of diplomacy that cannot be strictly defined as ‘state’ or ‘non-state’. Although the article documents strong ties between the Hermitage Museum and the Russian government, it also reveals the Hermitage’s growing capacity to build productive bilateral cultural relationships with foreign partners, bypassing governmental control. Specifically, the article looks at the international network of Hermitage Foundations as a successful museum international outreach and fundraising campaign that significantly contributes to the Russian government’s efforts in cultural diplomacy. This case offers new empirical findings from the non-Western context, exposing the growing role of museums in contemporary diplomacy.