A month ago a friend asked me if I wanted to see a Titanic Exhibition, so of course I said yes! We went this passed week. This exhibition is set up in Sydney until the end of June and is an , interactive way of learning history. That’s what I think now but before we entered the exhibit I was actually thinking, “this will be so cool I can’t wait to take photos of replicated sets, and feel like I’m actually there”. It didn’t strike me until I started drafting up this post how wrong that is. I’ll get into that a little later but let me start with a basic overview.
The exhibition is immediately made interactive through the handing out of boarding passes, you each get assigned a person who was on the Titanic with little descriptions about them, at the end you’re able to search through a list of names to see if you survived or died. I was Lady Duff Gordon (an alias, my real name was Lucille Morgan) and I was a highly regarded fashion designer traveling with my husband. When I got home I did a little more research on her and found out she was actually a role in the film Titanic and played a bigger role in fashion than I expected.
As you walk through the exhibition it is well laid out, you start at the beginning of the story, you read descriptions of the main crew get to see how the Titanic was made and read lots of interesting facts about it. You progress through as if it were a timeline of events, going through sets of the hallways, the lavish staircase and the ship deck. There are amazing pieces along the way, examples of crockery used for first, second and third class passengers, bathroom sizes, bedroom sizes and definitely the most interesting to me, the stories. The real stories of a husband who told his wife to get on the safety boats only for the wife to turn around and say “where you go, I go”, and stay on the Titanic with him and die together. The heart wants what it wants, I think I would’ve done the same.
Of course you get to the iceberg, but in a little section before that you see written on the walls mayday calls. Calls that were made to boats and ships approaching the iceberg, calls that were acknowledged by all except for one ship, the Titanic. There’s also a little story about some binoculars which are cased in a corner, these binoculars were forgotten by a ship master and may have been another reason why the Titanic wasn’t steered clear from the iceberg.
The last few areas were about the recovery mission – it took over 70 years for the Titanic to be discovered. Followed by the world famous film by James Cameroon, with costumes, posters and that iconic necklace.
Overall it was a great learning experience but I felt a little strange about the whole set up. Honestly, this is only settling in now, because my friend pulled out her phone and said let’s take a picture with the hallway in the background, and I was fine with that at that moment. The organisers had two opportunities for professional photos – on the ships mast and on the lavish staircase (we didn’t do those), they even made a game out of finding out if your person was dead or alive by the end of that fateful night, I was fine with that too, but then I realised how immune I became to the fact that this actually happened. Ok it happened 100 years ago but I keep thinking about when we reach the year 2101 what if there’s a similar exhibit for September 11. I was young when that happened but I remember parts of that day and the days after. I became really intrigued with the whole situation and sad about the whole thing. I think about going to the memorial museum in New York in the future to pay my respects and to learn more about the people who were there. I would never take photos of myself with a recreated office room or example of the planes that were involved. So why did I feel it was okay to do so with the Titanic exhibit? I think I’ve become so accustomed to it being something out of ‘pop-culture’ that I didn’t see anything wrong with it at the time. I think this is where we need to separate getting ‘likes’ for a picture and real life scenarios that tore families apart, no matter how long ago it was or how recent it is.
If you’re in or around Sydney I definitely recommend going to check out the Titanic Exhibition for educational purposes. Go read the stories of the people who were on that boat and remember them, it’s all we can do now.
“Love can touch us one time and last for a lifetime”
– Celine Dion