Titanic artefacts on show

By Courtenay Rule 17 May 2010
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Salvaged objects from the wreck of the Titanic are in Australia to tell a tragic tale that continues to resonate.

THE SPLENDOUR AND TRAGEDY of the world’s most famous ship are brought to life in Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition, a world-touring exhibition currently visiting the Melbourne Museum.

The largest and most opulent ship of its day, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg during its 1912 maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City. It sank into the freezing Atlantic Ocean, and more than 1500 lives were lost. With its accounts of drama, heroism, sacrifice, and the shattering of the era’s complacent faith in human ingenuity, the Titanic story continues to captures peoples’ imagination today.

SEE A GALLERY of images of Titanic

Conserved artefacts

Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition takes viewers back in time to that fateful voyage, through over 280 original artefacts recovered from the wreck, alongside full-scale reproductions of the ship’s Grand Staircase, a first-class suite and a third-class cabin.

“We are proud to be presenting this remarkable exhibition that, by displaying extraordinary objects removed from the sea bed, will bring visitors closer than ever before to the dramatic story of the Titanic,” says Dr Patrick Greene of Museum Victoria.

Battered and scarred from decades on the seafloor, each artefact – from a bronze cherub to a child’s marbles – has its own story to tell. A two-tonne fragment of the ship’s hull and a massive steel entrance door hint at the Titanic’s sheer size. A twisted chandelier frame and an ornate bench end, perfume vials and gold jewellery, all echo the grandeur of the ‘Gilded Age’.

Hand-cut crystal dishes used by first-class passengers contrast with plain, heavy crockery from the third class. Luggage bags, items of clothing – some marked with identifiable names – and even paper documents, amazingly preserved, evoke the stories of passengers from all walks of life, so many of whom were never to reach their destination.

Endless resonance

The conserved artefacts are owned by RMS Titanic, Inc., which holds exclusive salvage rights to the wreck. Cheryl Mure, the company’s vice-president, emphasises the importance of retrieving and preserving these historic items so that Titanic’s memory and legacy will endure for future generations.

“With more than 22 million visitors [worldwide] to date, we consistently see how Titanic resonates and touches everyone,” she says.  “Each of us can relate to someone on Titanic and the retelling of her story feeds our curiosity time and again.”

Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition is on at the Melbourne Museum in Nicholson St, Carlton, from 14 May to 17 October 2010.

Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition website
RMS Titanic – Wikipedia

Video: Introduction to Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition