Important to fulfil dreams, even when travelling by motorcycle
Former Moscow resident settles down in Belarusian village and opens free museum of motorcycles.
No other museum of the kind exists in Belarus. Vladimir Myachin has devoted his life to his unusual hobby and is truly altruistic, exchanging Moscow for a village near Vitebsk. He spends his own money buying rarities and has opened his museum using his own savings. He’s always ready to travel to the regional centre (15km away) to offer free tours for visitors, however small in number. He sees nothing unusual, saying, “I don’t understand why people are so surprised on learning that I was born in Moscow. Really, it’s great to make money in Moscow but I prefer to bring up my children in Belarus. Moreover, it’s easier for me to indulge my favourite hobby here.”
Vladimir used to work at Moscow’s Museum of Industrial Culture but, on moving to Yeremino, bought a wooden house and was given free access to a former clubhouse. Vladimir brought his collection from Russia and began repairing the abandoned building, fixing doors and preparing a plan of further action. He was then told that the site was being sold and, although the price was modest, his family had little money to spare, especially as his wife was expecting their third baby.
As an alternative, Mr. Myachin began renting premises within a Vitebsk multi-storey car park. Around a month ago, he opened his museum, without solemn ceremony, although some journalists and guests attended. A few donated exhibits (or sold them for a modest sum); there are always people who have unwanted items in their garage! Now, the museum barely has enough space for its growing collection. Besides motorcycles, there are various Soviet-era artefacts on show: toys, cameras, TV sets, cassette recorders, books and, even, a section of a ‘pioneer’ railway (one of the most complicated and expensive electro-mechanical toys from the 1950s). The best solution seems to be the renting of premises in Vitebsk, on affordable terms, with a 5-10 year guarantee. However, these are plans for the future.
Recently, Vladimir bought the village’s former first-aid building to house the museum. Of course, he understands that it’s not easy for city residents to reach Yeremino, risking the loss of hundreds of potential visitors. Nevertheless, it has been his dream to run his museum from beside his own home. Several years ago, Vladimir’s wife presented him a simple drawing for his birthday, featuring a country cottage, a pram with a baby in the garden and tourists hurrying to visit the Museum of Motorcycles (depicted in the other half of the house). Mr. Myachin comments, “We have accommodation and have bought a pram: not long ago, our third child was born and others will follow.”
Vladimir explains that he began collecting motorcycles around 7 or 8 years ago, having become interested in the history of Soviet motorcycles while in hospital, recovering from a spinal fracture. It’s now his passion, for which he has created his own Internet site, attracting others who share his interest.
A rare MP-044 was his first exhibit, although it lacked an engine. He purchased it in Moscow, answering an advertisement. Later, more exhibits were added. They now number over 30, coming from several different cities. His permanent collection is unrivalled in Belarus and Russia and features some extremely rare motorcycles. Some of his exhibits are prototypes, existing in very small numbers. Vladimir is especially proud of his unique ZiD, which was produced especially for an exhibition in Russia’s Kovrov; he bought it when the local museum closed. His other pride and joy is a MV-042М Lvovyanka, in addition to the first B-901 Kharkov-made motorcycle and a Riga-2 Gauja vehicle, around 50 years old.
“Many old vehicles can be found in Belarus of course. Not long ago, a Vitebsk resident donated a Riga-12. People often part with their old belongings with pleasure. Look at this teddy bear. It’s heavy and filled with sawdust but children played with it around five decades ago. I call it Aristarkh and it now protects my house,” says Vladimir.
We wish Mr. Myachin every success with his private museum, hoping that it will attract worthy attention and support.
By Yelena Begunova