Totally Titanic

After much anticipation, the city’s newest big exhibit opened last night. Hot on the heels of the successful Bodies show, the former A&B sound building on Portage Avenue is now home to Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition.

I still can’t believe what an amazing job the MTS Centre has done with this space–and this new show is no exception.

It starts with the feeling that you’re underwater. Blue lighting and dim corners show off how the wreckage of the Titanic was collected. Did you know there are more astronauts in the world than people who have been down to see the sunken ship?

You’re also handed your “ticket” when you start the tour with your passenger name and information on it. I was Mrs. Claus Peter Hansen (Jennie L. Howard) for my voyage. I was 45 years old, hailed from Racine, Wisconsin and told my brother before I left that I didn’t expect I’d return alive. Creepy.

The exhibit then runs through the ship’s construction and its first day at sea. You learn about all the details through a hand held device that guides you through an audio tour. It was kind of fun to note how many people said the ship was unsinkable and still a little shocking to realize they were so sure of this, they didn’t have enough lifeboats for everyone aboard.

You’re also given the option to have your photo taken and superimposed on the background of the grand staircase. You remember the one from the movie right? When Leonardo is looking all handsome in his tux? (Yah, just admit that you do.)

After that you’re treated to all kind of artifacts that were found with the ship–from dishes and chamber pots to suitcases, money and even an a jacket. I loved seeing all the kitchen and dining pieces, particularly a set of perfectly-preserved gratin dishes that were found sitting in the sand at the bottom of the ocean in a perfect row of dominoes.

They also had a re-creation of a first class cabin–that was my favourite part. It was so pretty and luxurious–I definitely could see myself in there. (Unfortunately Mrs. Hansen was in steerage according to her ticket.)

There is also a re-creation of what third class was like as well. It was so life-like with the sound of the humming engine that would have been constant background noise for those at the bottom of the ship.

Through there you’re taken into the boiler room and introduced to the men that kept the ship moving. After that, the events of the disaster start to unfold. There’s even a real iceberg that you can touch (and it’s made of actual ice).

The exhibit concludes with an ode to the lives lost on the ship and a neat little interlude that talks about what was happening in Winnipeg at the time. (There’s a whole exhibit on Manitoba’s connection to Titanic at the Manitoba Museum that I’m hoping to check out next week.)

Always a sucker for shopping, there’s also a gift shop where you can buy dishes with the White Star Lines crest on them, as well as re-creations of other various artifacts. I particularly loved the White Star Lines blankets!

Titanic runs until June and tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster.


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