April 15 will mark the 101st anniversary of the sinking of the transatlantic liner Titanic on its first voyage. The Belfast-built ship, once dubbed the ‘unsinkable’, sunk within minutes after striking an iceberg in the north Atlantic Ocean, with the loss of 1,500 lives. The downing of the New York-bound liner is still regarded as the worst maritime disaster outside of the World Wars.
To mark the anniversary, the Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA will be running an exhibit of artefacts taken from the stricken ship and will open to the public this Saturday (23 March). The museum’s display will consist of 125 items salvaged from the wreck underneath 12,000 feet of cold water. The exhibition’s creators hope to tell the personal stories of the 2,200 passengers aboard the ill-fated vessel, many of whom had planned to begin a new life in the States.
The Titanic sank in April 1912, with a thousand passengers and crew still on board. The ship’s band continued to play as the liner was submerged in the space of three hours.
So far only about 5,000 objects have been collected from the rusting remains of Titanic, which broke into two halves before it struck the seabed. Items ranging from restaurant menus and candlesticks to telegrams have been uncovered by specialist teams of divers and painstakingly preserved by museum curators and historians in both Europe and the United States.
The Albuquerque artefacts will be located over six rooms. Highlights include leather bags used for carrying documents which survived years under the ocean. Their surfaces had been treated with oils that preserved them from water and bacteria that would have digested them to nothing. This helped save the papers and objects concealed in them which are now on public show for the first time. There is also a model replica of the Titanic capturing to scale the erstwhile magnificence of this prestigious ship which was considered the ultimate in luxury sea travel upon its construction in the opening decades of the 20th century. It shows the exact number of lifeboats used by passengers as they fearfully fled the sinking ship. The owners of the Titanic were heavily criticised for underestimating the number of lifeboats needed, which could have drastically cut fatalities. Public outrage saw the drafting of safety rules for sea travel that are still in use today.
A traditional display of Titanic photos and documents (display photo from another museum)
Visitors can also view footage of the Titanic’s construction and the story of her preparation for her ill-fated maiden voyage. To make the exhibit as authentic and emotive as possible, guests will be given a special boarding pass just as the Titanic’s passengers did as they boarded the ship. Each pass will bear the name of one of those passengers and at the end of the tour they can discover if their name was among the 750-odd survivors whose names are displayed at a memorial gallery. Another highlight will be a giant wall of solid ice, symbolising the Arctic iceberg that tore a gash in the Titanic’s hull as she tried to sail past it 600 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. Visitors are welcome to touch the ice, their touches bringing to life the harsh and fatal conditions faced by those who found themselves floating in the middle of the sea that fateful night.
The New Mexico Natural History Museum in Albuquerque will play host to a special exhibition of objects from the Titanic shipwreck opening this weekend.
New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
Many thanks to Sunny Atwal for suggesting today’s article.
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“Sinking of the RMS Titanic” – Wikipedia LINK
“Titanic exhibit opens this Saturday” – Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4 & KOB.com LINK