A century after it sank after colliding with an iceberg, claiming more than 1,500 lives, the dramatic story of the Titanic – the world’s largest ship at that time – continues to fascinate people around the world. On April 15, 1912, the great ship sank and all that’s left is the wretched wreckage at the bottom of the Atlantic; a debris field stretching about a mile long with items from the period. But her dramatic story continues to fascinate people of all ages, throughout the years, and have been told in countless ways in books, movies and TV specials.
Since October 29 2011, Singaporeans, permanent residents and tourists have had an opportunity to journey back in time in Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition to take a poignant look at this iconic ship and its passengers at Marina Bay Sands’ ArtScience Museum.
Besides seeing the 275 artifacts recovered – 14 of which have never been seen before – from a beautifully restored scarf, to mottled coloured currency notes to ceramic cups, saucers and plates among others – brought up from the wreckage, one of the wonderful touches that the exhibition provides is an insight into the people behind the building of the Titanic, as well as some of the principal characters on board the vessel during the voyage. At the Construction Gallery, we learn of the conditions that existed that motivated the design of such a huge passenger liner – designed so as to compete against rival Cunard Line’s superliners Lusitania and Mauretania. The Titanic was the second of three in its class, which included the Olympic and Britannic (the Britannic was converted into a Hospital Ship by the Royal Navy and never saw service in its intended role).
We are introduced to Lord Pirrie, Chairman of Harland and Wolff and Bruce Ismay, the Chairman of White Star Line, as well as to the Head Designer and General Manager, Alexander Carlisle, who led the design team, whom we were to learn had his heart broken by the tragedy. We are also given the opportunity to be immersed in the Titanic experience – each visitor being issued with a Boarding Pass which tells the story of an actual passenger onboard the Titanic. Whether you are a first class or third class passenger (the latter having less chances of survival), you get to see their living conditions onboard the Titanic. This exhibition then ended with a huge Memorial Wall which laid out the survivors of that fateful night as well as those who did not make it back. You can then find out what happened to the person listed on your Boarding Pass.
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition has also created an ‘iceberg wall’ and you can to touch and feel the what the passengers felt on that fateful night.
“It’s very exciting for us to have this exhibition here in Singapore. The Titanic story is a human story that I believe people of all ages will enjoy,” says ArtScience Museum director Tom Zaller. For Zaller, the Titanic exhibition has come full circle for him as he spent three weeks aboard a Russian research vessel in 2000 where he participated in a 12 hour dive, descending to some 3,800m to witness the Titanic first-hand. “I have a special connection with this exhibition,” he says.
The Singapore edition of the exhibition will also see a few firsts. Visitors here can experience what it’s like to descend 3,800 metres under the sea to see the Titanic wreck. The Discovery Gallery comes complete with debris strewn sand (you walk on a glass platform) and recreates the scene at the bottom of the ocean. It takes you through some key highlights of the various Titanic expeditions and well as take you through the science of how the wreck and artefacts are monitored and recovered.”
Titanic – the Artifact Exhibition is now exhibiting at ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands from 29 October 2011 til 29 April 2012.