Titanic exhibit being prepared in Louisville

The RMS Titanic, photographed before departing on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England on April 5, 1912.

The RMS Titanic, photographed before departing on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England on April 5, 1912.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – The Titanic exhibit being set up at the Louisville Science Center may be the most significant attraction ever to be displayed at the West Main Street museum, said Joanna Haas, the center’s executive director.
Haas declined to say how much the center had to pay to get “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition,” scheduled to run Oct. 3 to Feb. 15. But, she said “it was a negotiation that required a lot of work” and took almost a year to wrap up. She wouldn’t speculate on whether the center would make a profit, but she predicted about 50,000 people will see it during its local run.

Every deal, Haas said, poses “risks and opportunities, and we’re hoping the exhibit elevates the prominence” of the Louisville center and “puts us on the radar screen of more folks. It is a big deal for us, and a great thing for the region. I can’t underscore that enough.”

Haas said Louisville is one of the first cities to land a scaled-down version of the Titanic exhibit that has been specifically developed for midsize markets.

Seven touring versions of the Titanic exhibit have been developed by Premier Exhibitions Inc. of Atlanta. They have been viewed by more than 22 million people worldwide since 1994. Besides the one being set up in Louisville, Titanic exhibits are currently being shown in Rochester, N.Y.; New York City; St. Paul, Minn.; Las Vegas; Montreal; and Lisbon, Portugal.

Becky Parker, a curator for the Titanic exhibit at the science center, said the 150 artifacts to go on display in Louisville were trucked in from Atlanta. Most of the items had been recently exhibited at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

A Premier subsidiary, RMS Titanic Inc., is the only entity permitted under a federal court ruling to recover objects from the wreck of the ill-fated ocean liner.

Parker said the company’s representatives have made seven expeditions to the wreck and recovered more than 5,500 artifacts. She said her company is the caretaker of the items, not the owner. The ownership of the wreck is uncertain and has never been settled by a court ruling.

The Titanic sank in April 1912 about 250 miles northeast of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic. It broke in half when it sank after striking an iceberg and the two halves lie about a mile apart about 21/2 miles down on the ocean floor. Parker said the vessel will never be raised.

The last survivor of the sinking, Millvina Dean, died this year. She was nine months old when the ship sank.

The exhibit will be divided into seven galleries. The first shows how the ship was designed, including early photographs. Subsequent galleries focus on the launch, the passengers, the third-class accommodations and the iceberg. A sixth gallery explores how the wreckage was discovered in 1985 and the last is a memorial gallery that lists each passenger.

When they enter the exhibit, visitors will be given a boarding pass with the name of one of the 2,228 passengers on the maiden voyage of the ship that many considered to be unsinkable. In the last gallery visitors can check the passenger list to see if the passenger named on the boarding pass survived the sinking.

The exhibit features a large replica of an iceberg, developed with the help of refrigeration equipment that allows layers of ice to build up on metal sheets.

Among the 150 items on display will be a wrench, a porthole, British and American coins, floor tiles, furniture, china, fuses, a toothpaste container, a sauce pan, bathtub fixtures, perfume vials, cooking pots, dishes and personal items.
Six items in the exhibit were recently conserved and have never been on display before, Parker said. They are a gold braided chain, two postcards, a marriage certificate, a metal hairpin and a small gold-plated cosmetic canister.

Throughout its run at the science center, the basic adult admission, usually $12, will be $18. Tours of the exhibit will be self-guided, but audio tours are available for an additional $5.

Information from: The Courier-Journal,

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