Monday, August 2, 2010

All Aboard the White Star Line!

A few weeks ago I went to the Melbourne Museum to see Titanic: The Artefacts Exhibition. (It's only on until mid-october, so any fellow Melbourne bloggers hurry up and check it out! Tip - see it on a Thursday evening like I did to avoid the large crowds.) The exhibition is divided into several sections, covering the construction of the ship; the interior of the ship, its facilities and the divide between First Class and Third Class passengers; the boiler room and the mechanics of the ship; the fateful encounter with the iceberg; the aftermath of the disaster and the inquests; and finally the recovery and preservation of artifacts from the sea floor decades later. When entering the room where the night of the disaster was covered, the temperature drops suddenly, and all is covered in an eerie blue light (there's even a giant hunk of ice for you to touch and experience just how cold those waters would have been!)

The whole exhibition is incredibly immersive: each 'passenger' is given a boarding pass with the name and history of a person who traveled on the Titanic. It's not until the very end when you find out whether you were saved, or one of the lost. It's tragic just how many of the people were meant to take another ship, but had their tickets transferred to the Titanic due to a coal strike. There's also irony in that one man who was meant to board the Titanic was kidnapped and forced into labour, only to escape several months later. What must have seemed like the most terrible thing in the world at the time was actually what no doubt saved his life! This to me was the greatest part of the exhibition - ensuring that the stories of the people involved were not lost, that they did not simply become another statistic of the disaster.

This is my "boarding pass" - a very large number of passengers traveled under assumed names! There are a lot of juicy backstories involving mistresses and card sharks - Mrs Kimball/Parsons (whatever her real name may have been...) had a rather interesting history herself. She was helping her friend's daughter escape a rather stalkerish suitor of hers, who chased them all the way to Europe and back!

There are reproductions of the bedrooms (both first and third class), hallways and dining rooms, as well as the grand staircase where you can get your picture taken.

Click to enlarge!

Each of the reproduction rooms is filled with the actual recovered artifacts for comparison - it's amazing to see how well some of the objects were preserved, including the most delicate items like jewelery and china. They look in almost new condition, their paintwork intact and not a scratch on them!

Only First Class passengers got the decorative china - Third Class china had the White Star Line logo imprinted upon them to prevent theft. You could buy reproduction dinner sets in either pattern in the gift shop, by which I was sorely tempted!

These bottles belonged to a perfumer on board the Titanic - apparently their scent still survives! Oh, what I wouldn't give to wear one of these!

I really enjoyed the exhibition and would encourage anybody in Melbourne to go and see it! And do put on your Sunday best - after all, you get to pose on that beautiful staircase! (Or, you know, dress up as Dr Who...)


Ruby Redwitz said...

I went recently and absolutely loved it! I loved looking at all the recreated rooms and those stories were all so amazing!
I ended up buying a third class mug :)
Did you find out whether the person on your boarding pass survived?

Charlotte said...

Oh how AMAZING! I would LOVE to see that exhibition! I probably wouldn't be able to resist dressing up Edwardian style if I went!

I was slightly obsessed with Titanic after we did a school project on it when I was about ten. And then again after the film came out, of course.

xx Charlotte
Tuppence Ha'penny Vintage


I love the upstairs's pics. You and your friend are very handsome.

Miss Emmi said...

Ruby - Oooh, I'm jealous! I wanted the mugs! But I only had so much money that night and still had to go out to dinner/drinks :( My lady survived though! All the girls did!

Charlotte - Hopefully it will come near you then! It started out in New York, I'm sure it'll tour some more places...

Big Mama - Thank you!

Lizzy said...

I saw one Titanic exhibition in the 98 in Boston, I was so excited to see it, I don't now if it's the same, but it was really interesting to see all that, all the objects , everything.

Sirens Sexy said...

I would just love to go on the Titanic exhibition! Looks like such fun :)

Modest wrappings said...

Naww wish they had that exhibition in Queensland :( i absolutely love your stle so very demure and elegent.... :)

Miss Emmi said...

Modest Wrappings - Maybe it will travel around a little bit more? One can only hope... And thank you for the lovely compliment!

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