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From the Depth: The Maritime Museum and the Admiral F. F. Ushakov Museum Reveal the Secrets

Rybinsk will celebrate its 950th anniversary in 2021. The city has prepared thoroughly for this event. New lampposts, updated facades of old mansions, stylized signs, paved pedestrian spaces and floating hatches on the roadway – the appearance of the city makes tourists admire it. Rybinsk has become a cozy, beautiful and attractive place for travel, and that’s why the visit of the team of The Association of private museums of Russia to Eduard Olenev and Andrey Rodin, the founders of the Maritime Museum and the Admiral F. F. Ushakov Museum, was especially pleasant.

The museums are located in one building on Krestovaya street – the main historical and commercial thoroughfare of the city, stretching along the beautiful Volga.

The basis of the exposition of the Maritime Museum is the collection of Sergey Fokin. One of them: it contains the treasures of the underwater world: shells of marine mollusks, corals, poisonous puffer fish, horseshoe crabs and shark jaws –all these Fokin collected during water expeditions. For a long time, he worked as a pilot of the Mir deep-sea vehicle, navigated four oceans, and in 1977, the ship under his control sank to the bottom of lake Baikal.

The submariner devoted his entire adult life to another collection consisting of 100 models of ships from different countries and eras. Some of the ships were made by him with his own hands, some he purchased, some were given to him. The pearl of the collection is the sloop Vostok, a model ship of the first Russian round – the-world expedition, which included Thaddeus Bellingshausen who discovered Antarctica. The model was made by a member of the crew of this sailing military vessel.

Sergey Fokin’s collections are unique by the standards of not only the Yaroslavl region, but perhaps the whole country. According to the collector, only the marine exhibition in Vladivostok can compare with his collection. He decided to transfer the collections to the Maritime Museum, among other things, because of Admiral Ushakov, whose homeland is recognized as Rybinsk land and where the first and only memorial ьuseum of the invincible naval commander is located in Russia.

The Rybinsk Museum of Admiral Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov was opened on June 12, 2016. The Museum presents authentic items from the estate of the Ushakov nobles and the Church of the Epiphany on the Island, old navigation and optical devices, small and cold weapons of the XVIII century, ship rigging and ship weapons, orders of the Russian Empire, furniture from the era of Catherine the Great, icons, models of sailboats, ship equipment, naval paraphernalia, household items and personal belongings of naval officers.

The exhibition reveals the secrets and intrigues associated with the name of Fyodor Ushakov, the main of which is the portrait of the Admiral. Eduard Olenev and Andrey Rodin clearly prove that the well-known portraits of Ushakov, despite the fact that they are stored in the Russian Museum and the Hermitage, have nothing to do with the real appearance of the great naval commander.

“The artists who painted these portraits not only did not see Ushakov, but also did not understand the awards and details of the naval uniforms of that time,” says Andrey Rodin. “They make Fyodor Fyodorovich look like a court nobleman. Although the Admiral spent dozens of naval campaigns, exposed his face to the sun and salt wind, was ill a lot, fasted, and ate sparsely, as one eats on Board a warship on a campaign.”

According to the Museum, the only lifetime portrait of the Admiral is kept in the monastery of the High Holy Mother on the island of Corfu, with which Fyodor Fyodorovich developed special, close spiritual ties. Russian Russian sailors built a cell building (now called “Russky” or “Ushakovsky”) and a cistern for collecting rainwater, which is still used today, at the personal expense of the Admiral and at the hands of the Greek monastery.

A sensational portrait of Ushakov was discovered in one of the rooms of the monastery by the schiarchimandrite, father Spiridon in 1988. Russian Russians started talking about it only in 2015, when, after the end of the XIV International public forum “Russian week in the Ionian Islands”, Valery Ganichev, Deputy head of the world Russian people’s Council, Chairman of the writers ‘ Union, and Igor Фshurbeyli, Director of JSC “Society”, made a trip to the monastery of the High Holy Mother to get acquainted with the relic.

In 2017, Eduard Olenev visited the monastery and took a detailed photo of the portrait. Unfortunately, it was in poor condition – it was pecked by birds (the tempera paint contains egg white, which attracted birds), it was noticeably damaged by bird droppings. The Museum managed to raise funds from sponsors for its restoration. Restoration of the portrait was entrusted to the restorer of the Rybinsk Museum Ekaterina Rastorgueva. She managed to eliminate the breakthroughs and strengthen the painting on the canvas side during the two weeks she spent in the monastery.

Later, Russian artist Olga Tsvetkova  painted for the Museum the first pictorial copy of the lifetime portrait of Admiral F. F. Ushakov, and now anyone who is curious about the history of Russia and the Russian Navy can see what the outstanding Russian naval commander looked like when visiting Rybinsk.