by Matt Smith, journalism lecturer and blogger|
Sep 30, 2010 1:20PM |EMAIL|PRINT
There are very few people reading this who wouldn’t be aware of the story of the Titanic. It’s been almost a century since the massive ship, proclaimed ‘unsinkable’, proved everyone very wrong in an encounter with an iceberg and took more than a thousand lives with it. Since its discovery in 1984, a number of expeditions have been sent to the icy depths to explore the remains and recover artefacts, and it’s these findings that now make up a temporary exhibition at Museum Victoria.
It’s easy to forget that the items on display have spent at least 70 years at the bottom of the ocean. There are everyday items including wallets, coins, shirts, bowls, toiletries and glasses. There are hunks of the ship, along with light fittings, doors and ornate light fittings. Amazingly enough there’s also paper — barely legible, but still in one piece after so long under water. Most of them are remarkably well preserved considering the trauma they represent.
The exhibition takes you through a mental recreation of the ship — each section tells a different part of the story, from construction, to sinking, to rediscovery. Through it all you’ll walk through recreations of hallways, staterooms and a grand staircase. The music and lighting are also staged carefully, from upbeat and well lit when describing life on board the ship, to dark and downright ominous when you’re exploring the sinking and recovery. And then there’s the temperature … it will send a chill down your spine at the right moment.
While it straddles the fine line of the macabre, there no escaping the fact that the pair of socks inside the temperature controlled case belonged to a dead man. It’s as close as you can come to experiencing the tragedy itself, and how the world suffered and reacted to the loss.
The details: The Titanic Exhibition is at Museum Victoria until November 7. And make sure you plan ahead — it’s been frequently sold out and well attended since its debut in May. The IMAX theatre next door is showing a Titanic film that you can see on a combo price, plus your entry ticket to the Titanic exhibit will also let you in to the rest of the museum.