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TItanic: The Artifact Exhibition now playing in six cities from Las Vegas to Lisbon

Cruise Line History visits the RMS Titanic.

TItanic: The Artifact Exhibition now playing in six cities from Las Vegas to Lisbon

By Sue Frause (Courtesy Seattle Travel Examiner)

After 97 years, the R.M.S. Titanic has finally docked in New York City. On June 24, 2009 Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition opened at the Discovery Times Square Exposition for a limited engagement. Located in the heart of Times Square in the former printing press room of The New York Times, the 12,500 sq. ft. exhibition features the largest collection of Titanic artifacts in the world. Many are on display for the first time after being recovered 12,460 feet below the surface of the ocean. The exhibition is a production of RMS Titanic, Inc., a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions, Inc.

I saw the exhibition in Victoria, BC two years ago. It included 281 artifacts recovered from the Titanic’s resting place, creatively displayed in a series of galleries that trace the life of the unsinkable ship — from its design and construction to its discovery, recovery and conservation. It’s not just about the sinking of the ship, but stories of the people who lived through this tragic incident. It also honors the memories of those who lost their lives.

To keep it real, visitors are issued boarding passes before climbing the gangplank. Each pass includes the name of a passenger and details about his/her voyage. At the end of the exhibit, you can find out if you survived. I was 29-year-old Sarah Elizabeth (Lawry) Chapman form Spokane, Washington. My husband John Henry Chapman and I were on a belated honeymoon to America to live closer to my brother in Fitzburn, Wisconsin. Our journey began in Southampton in southern England, where the Titanic departed at noon on April 10, 1912. We were to arrive in New York City o April 15, with stops along the way in Cherbourg, France and Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland to pick up mail and additional passengers emigrating to the U.S.

What impressed me were the special programming elements of the exhibition. Throughout the galleries were demonstration stations staffed by trained interpreters and junior docents who utilized props, reproductions and hands-on demonstrations to tell Titanic’s tale. You’ll learn about shipboard life and the difference between 1st and 3rd class; explore the contents of an elegant steamer trunk; and even sniff perfumes of the era. We were able to slip on a replica life jacket and lounge in a replica deck chair to get the feel of life on board the majestic ship.

Actors in period costumes portray the main characters central to the Titanic story, roaming throughout the galleries, answering questions and interacting with visitors. The characters include captain Edward Smith of the R.M.S. Titanic; shipbuilder Thomas Andrews; John Jacob Astor IV, the wealthiest man on the Titanic; and Margaret Tobin Brown, better known as The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

So did my husband and I survive the sinking of the Titanic? I forgot to check — maybe that’s best.

For more info: To find out more about the recovery of the artifacts, visit www.discoverytsx.com. Tickets to Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition are available online at www.titanictix.com.

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