Marina worked at the Hermitage as a guide. At the beginning of the invasion, the art work that had been housed at the Hermitage was boxed up and shipped away. All the frames were left hanging empty on the walls. Although a war was going on, Marina mentally survived the deprivation of the siege by creating a memory palace in her mind of the art work that once hung the walls of the Hermitage. A memory palace is a technique for memorizing many things. In order to utilize this method, Marina walked through the museum several times, viewing distinct places within it, in the same order each time. After a few repetitions of this, one should be able to remember and visualize each of the places in order reliably. This concept was taught to Marina by Anya, one of the babushka’s that worked at the museum. Marina created a memory palace within herself, remembering things by placing them literally around a palace. Marina imagined a place in her mind with lots of rooms, and furnished the rooms in her memory with whatever she wanted to remember (art work). She mentally placed missing paintings back into their frames, memorizing and imagining the appearance and location of each piece that once hung the walls of the Hermitage. This task helped Marina discover how to preserve the precious art she loved and cherished in her memory. She eventually remembered the placement of every painting in the collection, building a memory palace, for herself and future generations. The memory palace was a personal map in her mind, that only she could see, that remained vivid in her thoughts throughout the remainder of her life.
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