Titanic about to disappear

By Daryl Rowland
Special to the Beacon Journal

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A boy with a boarding pass is just one of the authentic artifacts in Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at Great Lakes Science Center, June 1, 2013  January 5, 2014. (Photo courtesy Great Lakes Science Center)

CLEVELAND: If you haven’t visited Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at Great Lakes Science Center, there are only a few days left before that ship sails. The interactive exhibit, which opened in June, runs through Sunday and provides a vivid look at the tragic event known to many only through the 1997 film directed by James Cameron.

Since the “Queen of the Ocean” sank in April 1912, people of all ages have been fascinated by the passengers onboard the opulent vessel and the tragic events that took more then 1,500 lives.

Visitors to the special exhibit are invited to “journey back in time and experience the legend of Titanic like never before.”

The exhibit includes more than 250 artifacts recovered from the ocean floor along with re-creations of actual rooms from the ship and glimpses into the personal stories of passengers and crew who were on Titanic’s maiden voyage.

Among the highlights are perfume from a maker who was traveling to New York to sell his samples, china etched with the logo of the elite White Star Line, articles of clothing and many other personal objects which bring to life the reality and humanity of particular lives suddenly cut off or forever altered.

Visitors embark on a chronological journey through the life of the Titanic, moving through the ship’s construction, to life on board, to the ill-fated sinking and heroic rescue efforts. Along the way, they may encounter costumed historical enactors portraying socialite Margaret “Molly” Brown, ship architect Thomas Andrews, American governess Grace Scott Brown, Third Officer Herbert John Pitman or Haitian engineer Joseph Phillippe Lemercier Laroche.

Guests can pause at the memorial wall to see the names of those who perished and those who survived and learn about Northeast Ohio’s historical connections to some Titanic passengers.

The wall lists Ohioans who died and survivors such as Shaneene George, who traveled third class and was returning to Ohio from Lebanon.

The exhibit includes a video that can be viewed with 3-D glasses and there’s a refrigerated iceberg that guests can touch.

For those who need more to complete their Titanic fix, the museum offers screenings of the Omnimax film Titanica which features the ship’s ruins on the ocean floor. The 1995 movie contains interviews with two Titanic survivors.

To shoot the underwater segments, two submersibles were outfitted with IMAX cameras and massive lights, so the footage is crisp. You can see the captain’s reception room and the private promenade of J.P. Morgan’s suite.

The wreck of the Titanic is located about 370 miles south-southeast of the coast of Newfoundland, lying at a depth of about 12,500 feet.

Until 1985, the location of the wreck was unknown. Many previous attempts had failed until its position, 13 miles away from the position wrongly recorded by the Titanic crew, was discovered by a joint French-American expedition.

That expedition, led by Jean-Louis Michel and Robert Ballard, used a remote control deep sea vehicle, outfitted with video cameras, which was towed from a vessel above.

The artifacts in the exhibit were retrieved during separate dives between 1987 and 2004. In 2010, a final dive was made for preservation research and to shoot additional video.

The wreck of the Titanic is far too delicate to be raised, because its condition has deteriorated during the century it has spent on the sea bottom. Apart from normal decay from the ocean, sea life, such as rattail fish, spider crabs and brittle starfishes, live amid the ruins.

For more information, visit www.glsc.org.

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