Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the ISM

On April 14, 1912, one of the largest maritime disasters in history began when the RMS Titanic, billed as “unsinkable” before its maiden voyage, scraped past an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic, gouging a massive tear in its hull. The ship sank within three hours, sending 1,517 businessmen, families, politicians, and workers to an icy grave. Over the years, the sad tale of the Titanic has captured the imaginations of scientists and laymen alike, even fueling the 1997 James Cameron blockbuster, Titanic. Many expeditions have been made to the destroyed skeleton of the massive ship, and each underwater venture brought more and more artifacts to the surface, allowing the world above to learn more about what happened on that fateful night in 1912. On Saturday, September 25, 2010, many of these relics will make their way to the heart of downtown Indianapolis for Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, the newest Indiana State Museum exhibit.

Far more than a collection of artifacts culled from the wreck of the ship, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition takes guests on board the ship itself as a passenger, allowing visitors to experience the engineering marvel of the ship’s engines, the social honeycomb of the ship’s three class quarters, and the ultimate tragedy of the Titanic’s demise. Visitors will start with a replica boarding pass, just like passengers would have gotten on the original ship. Displays in the Indianapolis exhibit showcase the initial planning and construction of the ship, a major technological feat at the time.

Many parts of the ship are accurately reconstructed in the Indianapolis museum; your house or apartment will seem like a palace compared to the third class quarters, while the replicated first class quarters are sure to put you in your place. Become one of the Titanic’s crew members in the cargo hold of the ship, or look out on the water from the massive deck. Guests can even touch the sweeping shelf of ice that took down the floating pride of mankind. Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition immerses guests in that fated voyage; it should be a great Indianapolis attraction once the doors are opened.

The highlight of Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition is, as the name suggests, the authentic artifacts dredged up from the depths of the Atlantic. More than 240 artifacts from the Titanic will be displayed at the Indiana State Museum, giving visitors a glimpse into the life of a typical Titanic passenger. Examples of artifacts in the exhibit include perfume from a traveling merchant and authentic White Star Line china. At the end of the tour through the Titanic, visitors will end up at the Memorial Wall, where they can determine if their passenger survived or succumbed to the icy water, a startling reminder of our fragile hold on life.

For educators at Indianapolis schools who’d like an opportunity to teach their students about the Titanic, the Indiana State Museum will be holding a Titanic Educator’s Open House tomorrow, September 22 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. The Indianapolis event will allow teachers to preview Titanic: The Artifacts Exhibition before the actual opening, allowing them to plan lessons specifically for the exhibit. Cheryl Mure, the Vice President of RMS Titanic, Inc, the company that runs the touring exhibit, will be speaking at the Titanic Educator’s Open House at 5:30; afterward there will be a question and answer session. Reservations are recommended, and teachers are allowed to bring one guest. It’s a great opportunity to go behind the scenes of this excellent Indianapolis attraction.

The tragedy on April 14 is one that has lived in the cultural mindset of the United States for almost 100 years. No museum exhibit could possibly capture the fear and the calamity of the actual sinking of the Titanic, but Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition does its best to transport visitors back to the glory days of the White Star Line. The exhibit is actually a touring exhibit run by RMS Titanic, Inc, the only company that has salvage rights for the Titanic. So far, the exhibit has had over 22 million guests from across the United States, a testament to the lasting impact of this great maritime disaster.

The exhibit at the Indiana State Museum begins on Saturday, September 25 and will run through January of 2011, so you have plenty of time to put Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition on your Indianapolis things to do list. Tickets to the exhibit are $10 for members of the Indianapolis museum and $17 for non-members. Be one of the first in Indy to step aboard the ill-fated flagship vessel of the White Star Line with Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the Indiana State Museum on Saturday, September 25.

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition
September 25, 2010 – January 16, 2011
Tickets: $10/members, $17/non-members
Ticket Sales Line: 317.232.1637

Indiana State Museum
650 W Washington St
Indianapolis, IN 46204

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