Titanic: The Exhibition is a new display in New York City that chronicles the fate of the eponymous luxury liner’s maiden voyage. While most people are familiar with the story of the sinking of the Titanic, the exhibition presents a mixture of 200 historical artifacts, film, photography, models, and an audio tour to help immerse people in the stories of the sinking with a novel and immersive presentation.
As someone who was obsessed with the Titanic for years (I at least partly attribute my interest in ruins to the National Geographic coverage of Robert Ballard’s discovery of the shipwreck in 1985), I would say that Titanic: The Exhibition offers more than enough to engage both newcomers to the story and historians alike. During the approximately 1.5 hour tour, visitors can listen to audio descriptions of each exhibit using their own headphones and smart phones or via portable units that are available via rental or with the VIP pass. This is a critical part of the exhibition, as text panels are sparse and most of the information on the displays is provided via the audio component, and I would not recommend skipping it.
Displays mainly consist of a variety of artifacts presented in display cases, from items carried by the passengers to deck chairs and silverware, and large light boxed of historical images. The light boxes are visually engaging and provide an opportunity to better appreciate the scale of the ship and examine small details in the images. There are also a variety of film segments to watch that include the construction of the RMS Olympic and Robert Ballard’s discovery of the Titanic. One of the most impressive aspects of the exhibition is the recreation of various parts of the liner: visitors can walk through a hallway of the ship complete with a creaky wooden floor (whether the floors of a new liner like the Titanic would creak as they were walked on is debatable but a nice touch nevertheless), or view displays that simulate the radio room and first to third class passenger quarters. There are also large models that provide a cut-away view of the Titanic’s interior and the bow section of the ship as it was found on the ocean floor. Of course the exhibition also includes the requisite gift shop, which mostly sells items branded with Titanic or White Star logos, but did include one or two items like a Teatanic tea infuser – a small replica of the ship that you sink in water to create tea – that seemed to be of questionable taste after going through an exhibit that worked so hard to impress upon you the gravity and loss of a massive maritime tragedy in which over 1,500 people died.
Overall I found the display to be well-done and informative. The presentation of the information is more fragmented than I would have expected, told in vignettes that illustrated certain aspects of the ship, its voyage, the lives of notable figures, and the tragedy, rather than in a linear narrative. Having said that, I didn’t find it distracting as its assumption that visitors have at least some familiarity with the overall story is likely correct and highlighting details as they relate to the whole pays off by increasing the sense of the disaster’s magnitude. Undoubtedly history buffs will find some of their favorite smaller aspects of the story absent, but when viewed as not just an exhibit but an experience there is more than enough to justify a visit. Admission for adults during peak hours (including the online booking fee) ranges from $39.50 for regular admission to $51.00 for VIP access, which includes a complementary photograph and rental of the audio equipment. This is significantly less than the Van Gogh Exhibition: The Immersive Experience and Titanic: The Exhibition felt like it did much more to justify the cost. Currently the exhibition is in New York City until January 2023 after its run in London. More info for visitors is available here: https://titanicexhibition.com/nyc/
Matthew Christopher NY New York Nov 21, 2022 Disasters Places to Visit Reviews