National Geographic to commemorate Titanic anniversary
WASHINGTON – A century after the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank, its story still captivates people around the world. In a new exhibition, “Titanic: 100 Year Obsession,” the National Geographic Museum will dive deep into the history and study of the Titanic, highlighting the work of National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Robert Ballard and James Cameron as well as the ship’s impact on popular culture today. The ticketed exhibition will be open from Thursday, March 29, through Sunday, July 8.
“Titanic: 100 Year Obsession” focuses not only on the importance of the legendary ship, but also on the National Geographic Society’s role in the story. More than 70 years after the ship sank on April 15, 1912, news broke around the world that the Titanic wreck site had been found by a team of scientists co-led by Ballard. Since this historic discovery, Ballard has continued to study the Titanic and is working to conserve the ship and wreck site. His most recent effort has been with the National Museum in Belfast, which he will help dedicate on the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking.
Cameron has been fascinated by the Titanic story for many years. Since the visionary director’s work on the film Titanic, he has organized 33 dives to the site—each one bringing back important new information, images and insights on the tragedy. His exploratory excursions, 12,000 feet beneath the ocean surface, have resulted in the development of groundbreaking new technologies in underwater exploration. Cameron continues to study the ship he helped turn into an entertainment icon through one the most popular motion pictures of all time.
The exhibition looks at Titanic’s audacious development, bold engineering and beautiful aesthetic. Highlights include a detailed 18-foot scale model of the ship, a working model of the engine room and a recreation of the Marconi radio room. The exhibition describes the circumstances of the ill-fated journey, using replicas and props from the film Titanic, including life vests and a full-size lifeboat.
The exhibition will feature a video on the “moment of discovery” from Ballard’s historic expedition to the wreck in 1985. Interactives developed for National Geographic magazine’s April 2012 digital edition will provide visitors a chance to explore the wreck site for themselves and will reveal new insights into the debris field.
An impressive 20-foot model of the shipwrecked bow from Cameron’s film will be on display along with the story of his own fascination and exploration of the wreck site. Included are images and data from his findings as well as one of the remotely operated vehicles, dubbed Elwood, that Cameron used in 2001 to explore the interior spaces of the Titanic for the first time. A digital animation of the ship’s final moments will describe how scientists have been able to definitively reconstruct how it broke apart and sank 100 years ago this spring.
The 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking is the focus of a major National Geographic cross-divisional effort in the coming months. In addition to the museum exhibition, the cover story, by Hampton Sides, in National Geographic magazine’s April issue will describe how new technologies have revealed the most complete—and most intimate—images of the famous wreck. Cameron also writes a personal essay. The National Geographic Channel will air two world-premiere specials: Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron on Sunday, April 8, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET/PT and Save the Titanic with Bob Ballard on Monday, April 9, from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET/PT. National Geographic also is publishing digital books, home video offerings and games.
National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th St., N.W., Washington, D.C., is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is closed Dec. 25.
For information on the “Titanic: 100 Year Obsession” exhibition or the museum’s other spring exhibition, “Samurai: The Warrior Transformed,” the public should call 202-857-7588 or visit www.ngmuseum.org.
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