Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition Review

I have always been fascinated with the Titanic story. Something humbling about it how we should always remember never to put too much faith in technology and that rushing a project could prove disastrous.

The exhibition is currently being done at San Francisco’s Metreon on the fourth floor until January 7th, 2007.

Before we entered the exhibit, Andrea and I were presented with a facsimile copy of an actual White Star Line boarding pass for 1st class passengers. What is neat is that each of the boarding passes bears a name of an actual passenger and each of the tickets are different. We were told that this boarding pass, many of its features we would take for granted today, was considered extremely expensive in that time such as the background picture of the Titanic and the varying colors on the boarding pass. We were also told that because we both are 1st class passengers, we can fraternize with each other. Splendid! For I would think it would have been a boring trip if we couldn’t interact…

The first room featured many actual recovered artifacts from the Titanic. Items such as a disintegrating gentleman’s hat, glasses, women’s hair brooches, suitcases were part of the collection. On the walls, there were many pictures, with some of them accompanied by fact snippets. The estimated cost of a 1st class stateroom is approximately $47,000 in today’s dollars (some estimated $2,000 back then) and a 3rd class closet, ahem, room cost about $600 in today’s dollars.

What we thoroughly enjoyed were the rooms that featured actual reproductions of parts of the Titanic. We walked through a hallway that 1st class passengers on board the Titanic would have to get to their rooms. We then walked through another artifacts room and into a fine dinning 1st class passenger dinning commons with displays of the Chinas used by the 1st class passengers, the nice dishware used by the 2nd class passengers, and the meager looking dishware of the 3rd class passengers. Actual wine bottles, some of which still contained the actual wine were on display including an 1800-something century bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne. Above each of the displays, was a sample of the menu for the various class passengers.

The next room featured the reproduction of the Grand Stairway, which was quite nice.

One of the most chilling rooms in the entire exhibition room is the room of what happened. In here there is a video loop on a big screen of a computer reproduction of the moments leading up to the Titanic and the collision with the iceberg, the breaking of the Titanic into two, and its ultimate sinking. Also in there, there was a huge ice berg (reproduction) that visitors could touch. A storyboard mentioned that the water was colder than this 28 degrees Celsius ice berg and that most people who were in the water did not die from drowning, but rather hyperthermia. Chilling…

We also saw a reproduction of a 3rd class passengers’ room, about the size of a 1st class passenger’s closet. It had two bunk beds on both sides meant for four people in a room. We also learned that only the 1st class passenger staterooms had hot and cold running water.

Another chilling room was the big marble slab with the names of the survivors and those who perished separated by passenger class. The vast majority that perished came from the 3rd Class with some equally in 2nd and 3rd class.

The final room featured a 24 foot section of the “C” section of the Titanic; it is haunting to know that this once was part of a ship that carried over 2,000 passengers. It also details the efforts of the preservation of this piece. Many of the stories in this room discussed the recovery of the artifacts and the painstaking efforts to preserve and maintain the recovered items.

We both enjoyed this brief history lesson (~50 minutes) and the fascinating, but tragic tales of the White Star Line R.M.S. Titanic. I would include pictures, but unfortunately photography is banned in there. The cost for each adult is $22 and if one wished to do the audio tour, it is an additional $5. We didn’t do the audio tour and still learned many facts from reading the storyboards and brief life histories of certain individuals on board.

My rating: 3.5 stars
***1/2empty star

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