On Tuesday I received a behind the scenes tour of Titanic, The Artefact Exhibition which opens at the O2’s Bubble this Friday (5th November) and runs until May 2011.
My trip around the exhibition lasted just over an hour including briefings and if, unlike me, you make time to look at every exhibit I’d expect a ‘regular’ trip to last about the same.
There are three concurrent touring versions of the exhibition with a permanent show in Las Vegas and the London exhibition, the first in the UK since 2003, features 300 artefacts including some never displayed before.
The exhibition guides you chronologically through Titanic’s life – from design and construction through to the sinking and up to present day with the expeditions to recover the artefacts on display.
One of the highlights is an ‘ice wall’ cooled to match the temperature of the Atlantic ocean on the night of the Titanic’s sinking. Visitors are invited to see how long they can hold their hands against the wall to before starting to feel the effect of the cold – if you go as part of a group you’ll inevitably compete to see who can keep their hands in place longest.
This is a good illustration of how the exhibition successfully manages to combine offering an enjoyable day out with the responsibility of ensuring visitors never forget the human tragedy of the sinking.
The condition of many exhibits is remarkable, papers from a leather case which sat on the ocean bed for decades have survived undamaged by the waters – apparently due to the leather tanning processes used at the time which repelled all water.
Alongside the recovered artefacts are video displays of the latest High Definition footage taken of Titanic and the surrounding debris field – the level of detail is amazing and really brings home the scale of the ship and just why she captured the mood of the time.
I’m told one of the most popular aspects of the exhibition is a memorial wall listing the names of survivors and those less lucky. On entry visitors are given a replica boarding pass with details of a real Titanic passenger and at the end of their visit are encouraged to check the wall to discover the fate of ‘their ‘passenger.
A highly recommended day out.
5th November 2010 – 1st May 2011. Tickets can be booked at TitanicLondon.co.uk and cost £13.00 for adults and £9.00 for under 17’s on weekdays and £15 for adults and £10.50 for under 17’s on Saturdays and Sunday.