Wednesday, January 02, 2013


To celebrate our anniversary, we went to the Franklin Institute to see the Titanic exhibit. I was so excited to go! The exhibit was huge, and very well organized. You had to buy timed tickets and even then, there were a ton of people there. When we entered the exhibit we were each given a 'boarding pass,' which had information of real Titanic passengers. Both Jeff and I were first class passengers, Jeff traveling alone and I with a few relatives. The first several rooms showed information on the building of the ship, and had various pieces of the boat (nothing huge...more of the 'hardware' that goes on a boat). After that, there was a beautiful reproduction of the grand staircase. Sadly, we couldn't take any pictures. You could, however, pay $$ (of course!) to get your picture taken on the staircase. The farther into the exhibit, the more personal the artifacts were. Toiletries, luggage, trolley tickets, letters, money, jewelry and more. Some were very damaged by water, but overall I was surprised that things held up for so many decades on the ocean floor. They also built a reproduction of the third class quarters and the first class quarters, which we walked through. Then, they had us walk down a very dark hall. It was hard to see and we weren't sure if that was it. But the farther down the hall, the louder the sound got. When we turned the corner, we were in the 'boiler room.' They had a huge chunk of coal recovered from the ship, and photos of the firemen that ran the furnace. Then you went through a reproduction of the water-tight chamber doors they had on the ship. The exhibit then detailed the timeline of the ship sinking. Sadly, everyone was so sure that the Titanic was unsinkable that precautions were not taken. In fact, even when the ship was sinking some people refused to get on the lifeboats because they thought the ship was unsinkable. As part of the exhibit, they even had an 'ice berg' that you could touch. We learned that salt water freezes at colder temperatures, and that the water and air surrounding the ice berg were significantly colder. These warning signs were also ignored. The next wing of the exhibit was dedicated to the sinking and later discovery of the Titanic on the ocean floor. They even had special lights playing water ripples on the floor to make it feel like you were underwater. They had huge pictures on the wall of what the site looked like upon discovery, and then in front of the photos were the actual artifacts! The most interesting one to me was a china cabinet that had been thrown from the ship as it split in half. It landed in the sand and settled into it. As time went on, the wood rotted away. The china plates stayed exactly as they were, neatly stacked in the sand (picture above). In front of the picture, they had the actual plates on display in sand just like they had been found. They also had a piece of angle iron from the ship, and had it displayed in such a way so you could stick a finger through a hole in the plexiglass and touch the real Titanic! After the sinking/recovery/artifacts displays, they had a few rooms full of the more personal items and stories. Some people's belongings were remarkably preserved and told the story of why the people were on the boat. It was sad. There were stories of people that weren't going to ride on the Titanic, but changed plans at the last minute and died on the ship. There was a family with 5 or 6 kids that rode in 3rd class to go to America, and they all were lost. There were also happy stories, of people who survived or were heroes that day. One man gathered as many people as he could and prayed with them all to bring them comfort. He didn't make it. There was a two month old baby on board, and she survived with her mother and siblings. There was a young man who was to sail on the ship, and at the last minute changed his mind. His belongings were already on the ship and they were so well preserved it was amazing. He even had a humorous post card in his bag. 1912 humor is a little different than it is now. :) On the wall of the last exhibit was a list of passengers, those who survived and those who were lost. You could check your ticket and look for your 'name' and see if you survived. Jeff and I didn't make it. Seeing the exhibit was really amazing. What happened was such a tragedy, but the stories that have come from it are fascinating. I suppose that is the appeal of the whole thing.

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