I went all out and got the ‘complete works’ ticket, which gave you entrance to the exhibit, the audio guide and a ticket to see an hour and a half documentary on the big IMAX screen which is all about the excavation of the wreck. I decided to see the movie first. It was really interesting and there was a lot of stuff in it that I did not already know (i am a bit of a geek about the Titanic), and some amazing footage of the wreck and inside the ship, it is amazing just how much is still preserved. The thing that struck me was that it takes two and a half hours just to get down to where it is, so a round trip without even stopping to look at it would take five hours, it is a miracle that they even found it really.
When you enter the exhibit they give you a boarding pass, mine was for a Mr Claus Peter Hansen who was travelling in Third Class with his wife. The card give you a little biog about the passenger, for example Claus and his wife were returning to the US after a visit to their families in Denmark, whom they had not seen in twenty-one years. It was a really clever way to make you engage more with the exhibit, as you walk round there is information about various different passengers so you could hear people getting excited when they saw or heard something about the person they had been given. The exhibit itself is really well structured, it starts off with a section all about the construction, launch and some information about the White Star Line company, then it takes you through different sections for the First Class, Second Class and Third Class, so you can see how conditions get progressively more cramped and less opulent. A first class ticket cost the equivalent of $120k in today’s money and it was full of the who’s who of the day. They have also constructed a replica of the grand stairwell and other sections of the ship and have heaps of different artefacts on display. Some of the most moving items are the personal belongings as they tell you whom they belonged to and if they survived or not. Towards the end of exhibit is a huge wall with a lists of all those on board split by class and if they survived or not, so people were gathered around it looking for the name they had on their boarding pass and also looking to see if other family members have made it. It was all very moving, almost like people searching for the names of their loved ones in a modern day disaster. Unfortunately Claus had not survived the sinking but his wife, Jennie, did.
By the time I got out I realised I had spent a good three hours in there, I’m sure most people would have done it in an hour or two, I felt like I got my monies worth, and the ticket included entrance to the Melbourne Museum so popped in there for a couple of hours as well.
By: Colin MacArthur