A famous moment in time is right in USF’s backyard to take visitors back to the night of April 14, 1912 in the mid-Atlantic where the sinking of the Titanic occurred.
The Museum Of Science and Industry opened up the Titanic museum Thursday to share memories, artifacts and knowledge to all that come.
“Everything from the exhibit comes from the debris field,” said Mark Lach, exhibit designer and USF graduate. “We have a reproduction of first class cabins and also from the second class. It was said that traveling in third class in the Titanic is like traveling in second class on any of the other ships.”
By stepping aboard into the Titanic exhibit, visitors are handed a boarding pass with an actual name and history of a one of the travelers originally on-board the ship.
After boarding, the passenger takes visitors through the hallway of the first class passengers and leads them to the dining room. Here, the artifacts that are presented are things such as bottles, sherry glasses and saltshakers. After the dining room, the viewer enters the lobby. The lobby in the exhibit is a copy of what it would look like if you were inside the Titanic itself. The next room is a room full of artifacts that range from passenger clothing to actual dollar bills, which were inside passengers’ leather wallets.
“The chemical juice that the leather has actually repels the microorganisms that otherwise would have eaten it away,” Lach said.
Lach said all of the paper artifacts and money recovered from the Titanic were preserved due to the chemicals inside leather.
Lach added that whenever a leather bag was found or a leather purse, the researchers were sure to find things inside them including paper money. These artifacts are also on display, Lach said.
Lach said the artifacts are recovered by the RMS Titanic Inc., and he traveled down the two miles into the dark Atlantic Ocean to see firsthand the Titanic lying on the ocean floor.
“Traveling to the wreck site was the most incredible adventure of my life. Seeing her (The Titanic) for the first time from the tiny porthole of the submersible was truly awe-inspiring,” Lach said in an interview with Clear Channel Entertainment. “Through the exhibitions, I have shared Titanic’s story with so many people and to see her in front of me was unforgettable. Now having seen her face-to-face, I have a renewed commitment and feel a tremendous responsibility to tell the story of Titanic in a way that conveys dignity and honor to her passengers and crew.
“One of the great things to be involved with the recovering of the artifacts is to see the care and integrity when they recover the things.”
To add to the effect of feeling as if the viewer is on board the ship, there are actors and actresses acting out life on-board the Titanic, Lach said.
“For this exhibit, I am a character actor. I play two different characters including Shellac Age, who is a third class passenger,” said Zekeshem Parsons, Hillsborough Community College theater student.
Parson said each of the actors in the exhibit has been practicing for about two months, including studying the background of his or her character and his or her journey on the Titanic.
The exhibit contains the largest artifact recovered from the Titanic, a piece of the ship from the starboard side. The piece of metal shows a couple of the porthole windows and it shows how powerful the wreck was.
The side of the ship is on display for guests to touch a section of the hull.
In addition to the side, an imitation of an iceberg has been created. The iceberg allows guests to touch it to feel how cold the salt water was when the ship went down.
“I never would have imagined a ship from the early 20-century to be so large. Walking through this exhibit has made me come to realize how terrible this tragedy really was, and makes me more respectful of the ocean,” said Mathew Fournier, a visitor to the exhibit.
Toward the end of the exhibit there is a wall of names. Here, each visitor searches for their name on the boarding pass to see if they had died or survived the tragedy.
“This part of the exhibit is a very connecting, emotional experience,” Lach said.
Along with the exhibit are two IMAX films: Titanica, and Ghost of the Abyss.
James Cameron, director of the award-winning movie Titanic, starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, directs Ghost of the Abyss. Cameron uses state-of-the art technology to direct the film. Cameron goes deep into the ocean where he journeys through the Titanic first hand. The film makes the audience feel as if they were part of the dive crew studying the ship.
Titanica is also about a dive into the deep ocean to view the Titanic. The award winning filmmaker, Stephen Low, helps make this film possible. In the film the cast speaks with other living members of the Titanic and it also discusses how the ship was made. This film was shown for the first time on the giant IMAX screen Thursday.