Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit

Ever since the sinking of this seemingly 'unsinkable' ship the public has been fascinated with it, the people on board, the stories surrounding it, and what is left behind. Besides the actual physical structure, which is rapidly deteriorating, director James Cameron's film "Titanic" starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio brought to light the romance of the onboard stories to us. We now want to know what the lives and last moments alive were like of all the passengers on this ship.

Once the wreckage of the Titanic was discovered in the Atlantic Ocean 400 nautical miles southeast of Newfoundland and 12,500 feet deep the race was on to excavate what was salvageable. Through this exhibit you will be able to see, in person, many artifacts from the wreckage of the Titanic.

The ship was conceived of in 1907, designed by ship designing genius Thomas Andrews and built in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was built through a collaboration of the White Star Line and shipbuilding firm, Harland + Wolff. The Titanic was the largest ship ever built and took over 10,000 men nearly three years to build finally finishing in 1909. It was a combination of strength and beauty. Many who saw the ship described it as a floating palace. It was nicknamed "The Unsinkable" due to its size and its innovative design that divided it into 15 transverse watertight compartments.

The Titanic's day of departure was Wednesday, April 10, 1912. It left from the docks in Southampton, England. The Titanic was captained by the experienced and respected Captain Edward J. Smith. He had been planning to retire in 1911, but was persuaded to captain the Titanic on her maiden voyage to New York.

Upon entering the exhibit you will be given a boarding pass of an actual passenger from the Titanic. There is a little biographical information on the person and at the end you will find out if your passenger lived or died. When you get to the end and read the list of survivors and those who perished, it is a very moving moment. You feel absolutely connected to that person.

The exhibit has 288 real artifacts from the wreckage. The scope and variety of artifacts will astound you. You will see anything from dinner plates to jewelry to money to clothes. I was amazed at the variety of things that have survived these almost 100 years underwater. At certain points you will be able to touch a part of the Titanic's hull and an example of the iceberg that sunk her.

Several parts of the ship are recreated for you to see. You can walk through an example of the first class hallways on the ship, see a first class cabin, see the massive boilers, and a third class cabin. They very much add to the understanding of the size and beauty of the ship.

The third element of the exhibit are photographs and personal stories of some of the passengers from the ship. Besides some photos of some of the passengers (like John Jacob Astor IV, Benjamin Guggenheim and Margaret Brown) you also get their stories. One of the more interesting ones is the story of well-to-do Montrealer Quigg Baxter. Baxter was a professional hockey player for the Montreal Shamrocks and was onboard traveling with his mother, sister and fiancé, Berthe Mayne. The story of Baxter and Berthe was very similar to that of Rose (Winslet) and Jack (Di Caprio) in the film with romance and tragedy.

From 11:40 p.m. on the night of April 14th the lives of all passengers on board the Titanic changed. Five of the watertight compartments were opened to the sea by an iceberg. It took 2 hours and 40 minutes for the Titanic to sink. 1,523 of the 2,228 passengers died. The 'unsinkable' Titanic went down.

Today the bow and the stern of the great ship lies 1,800 feet apart in its icy grave in the Atlantic. The Titanic is rotting and it is estimated that in a decade or two nothing will remain. Unfortunately there are no conservation techniques to preserve the ship itself and scientists predict that it will implode in 40-90 years. An exhibit like this allows you to see this important part of nautical history – up close and personal. When you leave the exhibit you feel you know about the ship and its passengers…intimately.

Additional Information:
-Website: www.expotitanic.ca – for information and tickets

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