One of my fondest memories was being in Elementary school and checking out a book about the Titanic. I remember sitting in my room flipping through the book looking at the pictures and reading the story over and over. You could imagine my surprise when I found out that the day they found the Titanic was the day I was born! I have since then checked out many books, watched many documentaries on t.v, and have always dreamed of the day I would be able to see some of the items that were carried on the Titanic in person. After many years of waiting the day I had been dreaming about finally arrived.
We met up with my dad and brother who were going to go through the museum with us. When we got there we were greeted by the friendliest staff who gave us our boarding passes which had stories of passengers and crew who were on the ship as well as an audio device. Throughout the ship there are plaques with numbers and when you push that number on your audio device it told you a story about that part of the exhibit. My 7 year old son loved that they had also had recordings for the children.
When you first enter the museum you see a huge model of the ship and when you push the buttons it lights up the different parts of the model such as the pool and stair case. On the wall there is a map with the route of the Titanic and information on where the Titanic was up until the moment of impact. As you make your way around you come into a room filled with artifacts from First Class. There were photos and stories of the passengers and crew including artifacts that belonged to them. You were able to see what kind of dinnerware they used and even an original menu of what they were served. You could spend all day in this room!
As we made our way through we ended up in the room where it's set up like the helm of the ship complete with a steering wheel. When standing behind the wheel you look out and try to see if you can spot the ice berg. The visibility is like it would have been that night and extremely hard to see. When you walk through the doors there is an iceberg on the wall you can touch which was extremely cold. As you rounded the corner you are able to stick your hand in the freezing 28 degree water. Within minutes your hands start to tingle and then sting. It breaks your heart to think that people actually fell into water that cold.
One of my favorite rooms of the whole museum was the one filled with pictures taken by Rev. Frances Browne. There were pictures of the passengers and crew boarding and pictures of them actually on the Titanic. It tugged at your heartstrings to think that they had no idea what was going to happen in just a few short days. He also took some of the Titanic and unknowingly snapped one of the only pictures of Captain Edward J Smith while on board. If he wasn't requested by his superior to get off of the ship in Queenstown there would not be any pictures of life aboard the Titanic.
Their new exhibit was all about the children of the Titanic. On the wall were pictures of the children as well as their name and age. It told stories of some of the children like where they were from and why they were aboard. A few still sticks out in my mind because they were so little as they ranged from 9 weeks to 15 years. They had an actual stuffed polar bear that belonged to 9 year old Douglass Spedden who escaped the Titanic with his family.
The third class exhibit will open your eyes to what kind of life they actually had on the Titanic. They lived in small cramped quarters usually 4 beds to a cabin with a small wash basin and this was for a large family. Everything from their dinnerware to what they were served were a far cry from what they were enjoying in first class. One of the things that sticks with me is the huge difference in the menu. While the first class were enjoying salmon, lamb, and fancy desserts third class was served oatmeal, gruel, and macaroni soup. On the bottom of the third class menu stated that any passenger caught complaining about their meal should be reported to the Purser or Chief for identification! There were only 2 bathrooms in third class and one elevator.
One of the most majestic area of the museum was the grand staircase. We were met by a wonderful woman who told us everything about it. The entire staircase was modeled after the original from the iron scroll work, oak wall paneling, and the amazing glass dome. At the bottom of the stair case you are greeted by a cherub statue holding a torch. At the top is an amazing carving with a clock in the middle instead of a sundial. All which was carved by hand. The pineapples carved into the staircase were an international symbol meaning that no matter where you were from or what language you spoke you were able to connect with others. Whether it be from the same language or country everyone was welcome.
As you make your way to the top of the staircase there was a gorgeous stateroom complete with a fireplace, writing table, adult chairs, and a little play area for the children complete with dolls. This room contained a board with mother of pearl inlay and a dress made by one of the women who were in first class. There were six parlor suits for the ultra wealthy, bathrooms, 2 elevators, and even their own private promenade deck. There were eparate servant quarters for servants. It was expensive to travel first class as it would cost you $22,00 for two in the parlor suit and $1,500 for two in a stateroom.
After visiting first class the next room was completely interactive which the boys loved. They had ramps set at various levels you could walk up, so you could see the how steep it got as the ship was going down. They had an interactive game where you could steer the Titanic and try not to hit the ice berg. It's not as easy at it sounds and here you get your picture taken!
The next two rooms contained photographs and information on the day they discovered the Titanic in 1985. There is a display pointing to various spots on the ocean floor where certain artifacts were found. As we rounded the corner everyone seemed to have gotten silent as you realized you were in the memorial room. Engraved on the wall were the names of every first, second, third, passenger including the crew. You were able to see who survived and who perished. In the middle is a life vest worn by Madeleine Astor.
The last room was all about the Titanic movie. Inside were the actual clothing Leo and Kate Winslet wore along with a case full of Oscars. This room was filled with information about making the movie, props, and even a real replica of the Hope diamond.
We left with more knowledge and understanding than what we went in with. We had an excellent time and I would recommend anyone visiting Pigeon Forge or Bronson Missouri to visit the Titanic museum.