It is difficult to overestimate the tremendous importance of the Navy in the history of Russia. The Central Naval Museum is a treasury of relics pertaining to historical battles and great victories, development of marine science and technological progress. However, the passion for the sea in the fate of people who decided to devote their life to fleet plays no less important role. Engendered in the young years, the love for the sea is retained through all one’s life and manifests itself not only in a longstanding service, but also in minor details. The exhibition "The Fleet in Miniature" is devoted to the "private" history of the fleet, presenting personal household items from the collection of the Central Naval Museum.
Children's toys, souvenirs brought from voyages, cabinet portraits, photographs, accessories and domestic objects decorated with naval symbols penetrated people’s life both in the navy service and in mundane affairs. Due to their modest size and certain lyricism, as compared with the other items of the museum collection, they are rarely exhibited to the general public. But these "bagatelles" were much appreciated by their owners; among them the members of the Royal family, hero of the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878 Admiral A.P. Shestakov, seafarer O.E. Kotzebu, builder of the cruiser "Aurora" K.M. Tokarevsky, Rear Admiral L.F. Dobrotvorsky and many others.
Paradoxically, the miniature requires not only fineness of the work, but also monumentality of the image. Small dimensions do not let the craftsman to introduce insignificant, inexpressive details. With all the variety of demonstrated items, they are distinguished by high workmanship and detailing; the profound knowledge of depicted objects is striking. The authors of the exhibition did not undertake the task of presenting a consistent account of events. Rather, succumbing to the charm of the objects, they sought to enable the museum visitors to enjoy their contemplation.
The models from collections of the Royal family members, presented at the exhibition "The Fleet in Miniature", developed their owners’ interest in the naval fleet and the knowledge of the art of war from childhood. They mastered the ship's structure, the artillery art, the fundamentals of naval tactics through a fascinating game. Some "toys" existed for more than a century in the Romanovs family, being transferred from one generation to another. A unique item - a child uniform of Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich who was assigned to naval service from the age of 4 with award of the rank of Admiral-General - was carefully preserved in the Grand Duke’s family, and at the beginning of the 20th century it was passed to the museum.
The Central Naval Museum is proud of its fine collection of tortoise shell models. This material has always been valued for its crafty qualities. The Russian officers invariably brought Japanese souvenirs - images of their ships made to order by local craftsmen. The specimens of lacquer miniature and jewellery items were brought from the Far East.
The awards, including "dress coat" insignia (clipped versions), tokens and badges represent most interesting models of phaleristics. The badges of merit have always been executed at a high artistic level and had an expressed meaning.
The exquisite forms of accessories and souvenirs create images of ships, navigation devices, equipment. The memories of the naval fleet can be traced in many everyday-life objects. The visitors, admiring a naval officer's dagger and a pin for a tie in the form of a dagger, will be excited as well by the gunsmith’s art and the jeweller’s craftsmanship.
The collection of military history miniatures (figures of seamen and ships' silhouettes) was executed in emigration by a Russian fleet midshipman L.A. Maidanovich who, upon return, became one of the founders of the "Nuremberg" miniature in the USSR.
A number of training models and manuals, military industry specimens executed for approval by the Marine Ministry before being launched for mass production, also found their place at the exhibition. In total, it presents about 250 museum items, most of them exhibited for the first time.
The exhibition is open from December 7, 2017 to November 30, 2018