Come on board!
The exhibition “Titanic – Real Findings, True Fates” is touring. At the moment and until the 3rd of July 2016 it stops at the old tobacco factory “Tabakfabrik” in the Upper Austrian city Linz.Read here why you could go there but don’t have to.
I went there last Saturday, which was a rainy day at the beginning of March. Therefore the exhibition was well visited, and even though at the beginning I was a bit afraid that it will be crowded, it was okay. The area is huge and thanks to the audio guides you can explore the exhibition on your own pace. Here’s the first thing I really liked about it: They provide audio guides especially for kids, too. I guess they come with an easier to understand language, less technical details and maybe even less sad details of the whole catastrophe that led to the Titanic becoming a legend. In fact so famous, that I don’t even have to tell you what exactly happened on the 14th of April 1912 (you know – iceberg, not enough life boats, ship sinks).
And that leads to another point on the pro side: The exhibition really focuses on explaining how a lot of different factors added up and resulted in the “unsinkable ship” to sink. In order to do so it starts with a very detailed explanation of how the White Star Line’s gigantic ship was developed, built and furnished; you’ll learn a lot of interesting facts (for example that one of the ship’s two smaller propellers weighed about 38 tons and that 3 million rivets were used; some of them were put in place manually). While you’re listening to your audio guide, you can see gigantic photos of the building process, deck maps and so on. Some very few artifacts, like one of the pipes, are exhibited. You’ll know everything about the ship and all the poor decisions that were made long before the ship left the haven of Northampton for it’s virgin ride to New York.
I liked that they focused on the fate of the passengers as well. You somehow get to know some of them, as parts of the story are told supported by quotes of survivors and quotes out of diaries they found among the objects that were still there when the Titanic-Explorations started in the 1990; 80 years after the ship sank. The story of the fateful night doesn’t stop with the sinking of the ship though; it’s a plus that the exhibition didn’t stop there. You’ll learn about the Carpathia, the vessel that came to take the 700 survivors on board, about media coverage back then (for our understanding of communication now it took them ages to get verified information, of course) and about the Titanic-Exploration missions that started after the ship’s wreck was re-discovered in 1985. So far, so good. Now let’s talk about the things I didn’t like too much.
First: The artifacts. I had expected to see more “real” Titanic stuff, but some parts of the exhibition only consisted of enlarged old photos. I know that there is a huge permanent exhibition at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, where they even have an unopened bottle of champagne and a 1:1 scale mock up of the grand staircase; I also do know that all in all not exactly a lot of artifacts were retrieved so far; I know that they can’t just bring the really really big (even for American standards) exhibition from the Luxor to the whole world and that they had to leave artifacts there, too. But then the ad was – at least for me – a bit misleading, cause I left with the impression of not having seen 2oo artifacts. You’ll get a glance on a mock up of a first class cabin and a third class cabin and of the Verandah Cafe – but these are not artifacts but props.
Second con: I would have liked if it they would have busted or explained some myths. Like is it true, that the band of the ship kept playing till the ship sank? Is it true that they played “Nearer my god to thee”? Is it true that US-author Morgan Robertson predicted the sinking 14 years before it actually happened? Stuff like that would have been very interesting for me. But I still had a very diverting 2 hours at the exhibition, it was really interesting. Of course you have to find out for yourself first if you do want to help a company gaining millions and millions of dollars a year by exhibiting artifacts of an accident that cost more than 1.500 people their lives.
Admission fee starts at 10 Euros for kids and 16 Euros for adults; special fees for families, students and groups apply
Audio guides are an extra 3 Euros
The exhibition is open till the 3rd of July 2016, Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 6 pm
Taking pictures in there is not allowed, but the organizers of the exhibition gave me permission to use their press pictures. Copyright is Uwe Niklas.