ULYANOVSK: Marina is the director at the Lenin family museum, and if the communist leader were alive today, he would probably use her life story as an example of the deficiencies of the current Russian state.
A teacher for twenty years before becoming director of the museum 10 years ago, Marina lives at home with her 26 year-old son and several cats and dogs. Her son is unemployed and 1/3 of her very small salary goes to housing and communal services, she said, probably living her with next to nothing after food expenses.
Olga volunteers at a warehouse at the edge of Moscow containing tens of thousands of antique items - from Lenin busts, to 1950 televisions and radio to Soviet motorcycles and hot irons. It is called the 'Museum of Industrial Culture' by the enthusiasts and volunteers that run it for no money. The museum survives on donations. Olga has contributed to the 'museum' part of her boat motors collection, which she says may be the largest in Russia. She said it all started when her father gave her their old canoe motor. She was 11 at the time. ''His daughter needed a toy to play with,'' she said jokingly. ''Little did he know that the gift would eventually lead to a museum collection.'' Olga, who lives by herself in the Moscow suburbs, says she has more than 100 boat motors. She stores them not only at the museum, but at her home and in her garage. She said she is the only Russian member of the Antique Outboard Motor Club Inc., a society dedicated to the preservation and restoration of antique motors.
Mikhail, 38, was working away in the chilly Industrial Museum, an old, private warehouse at the edge of Moscow containing thousands of antique goods - from Lenin busts, to hot irons to 1980s computers. Mihail, an electrical engineer, was fixing a car radio for a Soviet-era Volga car. He said he volunteers a few times a week to fix electrical goods at the museum. ''I do it solely for personal enjoyment,'' he said. A physics student at Moscow State University, he dropped out in the 1990s during his fifth year because he lost interest. He later enrolled at another university, where he got his degree in engineering. Mikhail said his favorite item in the museum is a 1967 reel-to-reel Leira-206, one of the first 'smaller' tape recorders, he said.