June 11, 2016: Taganrog Chekhov Memorial Estate's collection have been enriched by the addition of unique exhibits found in the family archive of Mrs. Patricia Elizabeth Engel (Norwalk, CT, USA). The "De Bottari Collection" consists of over 160 photographs and some 50 drawings related to Alferaki (Alpheraky) family. Patty Engel heard of her Russian background from her late mother and could be descendant of Achilles Dmitrievich Alferaki who in his turn was uncle to composer Achilles Nikolaevich Alferaki
Finding the never-before-seen collection, in May 2014 the American relative of the prominent Taganrog family wanted to find out more about these things and contacted TaganrogCity.Com. Engaging into communication with foreign relations officer Alexander Mirgorodskiy and with the help of Taganrog Museum's senior researcher Alla Tsymbal and deputy director of Taganrog Arts & Culture Council Marianna Grigoryan, many answers have been found. The 2-year communication resulted in Mrs. Engel's decision to donate the collection in favor of Taganrog Museum.
As we previously announced
, thanks to sponsorship of Boris Romanenko ("Agroprom-Impex Company") and Gennady Dubovoy ("Bristol Hotel"), the visit of Mrs. Engel took place June 7-11, 2016. On the first day of her arrival, descendant of two Russian and Italian noble families visited the Taganrog Museum of Local Lore and History and met with its curators and researchers. During this meeting, Patty Engel, Alexander Mirgorodskiy and museum staff carefully reviewed the photos, matching them with people depicted in the friendly jests and drawings, and also with other drawings also dating back to 1870-1880s from the Alferaki's collection held by the Taganrog Museum.
At the same time the collection of 215 items was handed over to be prepared for display at the long-awaited event.
The donation ceremony was held on June 9, 2016 at the Taganrog Museum of Local Lore and History, more commonly known as The Alferaki Palace. The event started with Taganrog Municipal Orchestra directed by Mr. Alexander Gurevich playing "Nocturne" written Achilles Alferaki
, solo part performed by Ulyana Karda. Next, the floor was given to the American guest, who gave details of the 150-year-old surprise:
"While cleaning out my Mothers house after she passed away, I came upon a box in a closet, with pen and ink drawings and photographs from the mid 1800's, all from Europe, most from Russia and Italy.
My Mother had told me that my great-grandfather's family had lived in Russia, but I had never seen these pictures before. Naturally, I was very curious about who was the artist of the drawings and who were the people in the photographs.The internet was my friend! I started with one of the people depicted in the drawings - Mr. Achilles Alferaki
. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the Alferaki Palace in Taganrog, and that it is now a museum. Further research, gratefully with the assistance of the Museum, shows that we also have Alferaki family photos.
The Alferakis had a wide circle of friends that included many famous people. These pictures now give us a better understanding into the life of a prominent family of Taganrog. I have always felt these were not my possessions, they belong to you here in Russia. I am very grateful to my hosts for bringing me here, and I am happy to see the addition of these pictures to this exhibit, in this beautiful museum".
On behalf of the Taganrog Local Government, chief of administrative offices Alexander Zabezhailo presented Patty Engel with a commendation letter signed by the acting mayor of Taganrog. Another award to the American guest was presented by Ivan Grunsky, deputy minister of culture of Rostov Oblast, who highlighted that the generous donation of Patricia Engel and her name will forever go down in the history of Taganrog and Rostov Oblast.
After the end of the ceremony, the donor of "De Bottari Collection" met the press.
During her stay in Taganrog, the American guest visited the Taganrog Museum of Art, monuments and memorial buildings in Taganrog's historic downtown area, as well as remarkable sites dedicated to childhood and youth of the great Russian playwright and short-story writer Anton Chekhov
The descendant of Alferaki family and the city of Taganrog look forward to continued communication and cooperation in the future.