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From lunar soil to shells of living fossils. Seven of the most inconspicuous objects from museum collections and related stories are in a joint article by and the Mosgortur agency.

The collections of Moscow museums contain exhibits of various sizes – from giants a few meters in size to crumbs less than a millimeter. We study the badge of the times of the Great Patriotic War, examine a porcelain elephant as tall as a nail, get acquainted with the bug as a cobius and other objects, not all of which can be seen with the naked eye.

Lunar soil

Dimensions: approximately 0.03 millimeters

The smallest exhibits of the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics are two samples of lunar soil, which played an important role in the development of world cosmonautics.

On July 21, 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins stepped onto the lunar surface for the first time in human history, thus making a huge breakthrough in space exploration. In June 1970, American President Richard Nixon donated to the Soviet people a part of the collected lunar soil, sealed in a transparent capsule, which can be seen today in the museum window. In 1986, the capsule with soil was transferred to the Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow.

On September 24, 1970, the Luna-16 reentry vehicle delivered to Earth 101 grams of lunar regolith from one of the lunar seas – the Sea of ​​Abundance. Studies of particles on the surface of a satellite of our planet have shown that the lunar soil is similar to wet sand: it is dark gray in color, is quite plastic and easily sticks together, and in chemical composition it resembles crushed basalt-type rock. 20 grains of soil extracted by the Soviet apparatus are also kept in the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics.

Badge “Guard”

Dimensions: 4.4 x 3.4 centimeters

The smallest item in the collection of the Museum of Heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia is the “Guard” badge from the Great Patriotic War. He was transferred to the museum by the grandson of a front-line soldier, who also chose the military path. For him, this little sign became not just a memory of a heroic ancestor, but also a kind of talisman.

The officer of the 133rd separate tank battalion of the 45th guards motorized rifle division of the Leningrad military district, captain Vadim Vilyevich Makarov, kept his grandfathers with him, for good luck, when his time came to fight. It looks like the sign really turned out to be happy: Makarov’s unit went through the first Chechen war without losing a single tanker and not a single tank in two years. On June 14, 1997, Captain Makarov was awarded the title of Hero of the Russian Federation.

The “Guard” badge was instituted on May 21, 1942, when the Red Army had guards units, in which they accepted only servicemen who had shown themselves well in battle. It seemed impossible to create a special uniform for guardsmen in wartime conditions, so they decided to add a special insignia to the existing one.

Its appearance was approved quite quickly – a red star surrounded by an oval laurel wreath and a red banner. Initially, the sign was supposed to have a relief portrait of Vladimir Lenin, but because of the risk of abrasion of the image of the leader of the world proletariat, they decided to stop at the inscription “Guard” on the banner. Filled with a thick layer of enamel, it had a great chance to retain its original appearance for a long time in combat conditions.

The presentation of the guards insignia during the war took place in a solemn atmosphere – in a general formation and with the banner being carried out. The “Guard” badge was worn on ceremonial and everyday military uniforms first on the right. They were awarded until 1991. After the collapse of the USSR, the “Guard” badge ceased to exist.

Bullet and sleeve of Vladimir Mayakovsky

Dimensions: bullet – 11.65 by 7.85 mm, sleeve – 16.9 by 8.9 mm

Once the smallest items stored in the State Museum of V.V. Mayakovsky, were one whole – the patron of the company “Gustav Genshov and Co”. On April 14, 1930, having disintegrated into a bullet and a cartridge case, he ended the poet’s life.

No one knows exactly what happened on that day in house 3 on Lubyansky passage. The question of the reasons for the death of Mayakovsky is still a matter of debate. Creative and personal failures, resentment against the authorities and friends from LEF, who coldly greeted Mayakovsky’s anniversary exhibition “20 Years of Work”, the failure of two performances in a row based on his plays could lead to a tragedy. Whatever the reasons, only these two small museum exhibits under the numbers GMM KP-32616/3 and GMM KP-32599/15 know the truth.

Photo of Tamara Vladislavovna Petkevich

Dimensions: 3.3 x 2.5 centimeters

The smallest exhibit of the Gulag History Museum is a tiny photograph that contains a tragic love story. The photograph shows Tamara Petkevich (1920–2017), a Russian actress, theater critic and writer. On the back of the picture, it is written in her hand: “To my only beloved and dear heart, to your dear, always Tom.”

Tamara Vladislavovna addressed tender words to her beloved Nikolai Teslik, whom she met in the Northern Railway Forced Labor Camp in the Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. The daughter of a political repression in 1937, she fell into a terrible millstone in 1943. The camp theater actor became her greatest love and the only consolation in her seven years of imprisonment.

Released in 1950, Tamara Vladislavovna went to work at the Syktyvkar Drama Theater. She often came to the camp, lived with the hope of reunification. But this was not destined to happen – Teslik was terminally ill. On June 27, 1950, he died in custody. The woman did the incredible: she persuaded the camp authorities to give her the body and received permission to bury Nikolai outside the camp walls. She dug the grave herself.

In 1957, Tamara Petkevich was completely rehabilitated and returned to Leningrad, graduated from the Leningrad State Institute of Theater, Music and Cinematography. Tamara Petkevich is best known for the book of camp memoirs “Life is an unpaired boot”, first published in 1993.

Porcelain figurine of an elephant

Size: height – 1.5 centimeters

The smallest exhibit in the permanent exhibition of the A.N. Scriabin is a miniature porcelain Indian elephant. The composer was very fond of collecting figures of these majestic animals. Perhaps they reminded him of distant India, with which his greatest dream was connected.

The central idea in the work of Scriabin was the creation of the “Mystery”, which will unite humanity and become the herald of a new era. It is difficult to say in one word what “Mystery” is, the German Gesamtkunstwerk, or “united work of art”, is the closest in meaning. The composer imagined that his creation would exist at the intersection of different types of art – from poetry and music to architecture and dance – and erase the boundaries between the creator and the public.

Alexander Nikolaevich saw an Indian temple as a place for the performance of the Mystery; he even looked out for land in India for its construction. However, the great musician did not manage to realize his grandiose project.

Beetle Caccobius mundus

Dimensions: four by three millimeters

In the collection of the Biological Museum named after K.A. Timiryazeva kept a small beetle-caccobius – a representative of the species Caccobius mundus. This is one of the many relatives of the eternal companion of the Egyptian gods – the scarab, only about 10 times smaller. Kakkobius live in the Caucasus, the Middle East and North Africa, preferring to settle at an altitude of 2500 meters. The specimen presented in the museum was found in 1967 in Azerbaijan.

The first description of this beetle was made by the French entomologist Edouard Menetrie in 1838. Despite his French origin, Menetrie spent most of his life in the Russian Empire, where in the Russian manner he was called Eduard Petrovich. Menetrie became the first professional entomologist in Russia, that is, he received a salary for this job.

Fossil shells

Dimensions: diameter – two to three millimeters

One of the tiniest fossil shells in the collection of the Darwin Museum is assilina. It belongs to the type of foraminifera – unicellular animals, which are about 55 million years old.

If the size of modern foraminifera averages from 0.1 to one millimeter, then in the Paleogene period the representatives of this order were much larger. For example, nummulites, the diameter of which reached 16 centimeters, are still the champions among unicellular organisms.

Inside, the foraminiferal shell has a complex structure: it is twisted in a spiral and consists of many chambers. Most foraminifera are benthic animals. Their diet is based on unicellular algae, which they catch with filamentous pseudopods.

Science knows more than 40 thousand species of foraminifera and about 10 thousand modern ones.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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