On the 10th April 1912 An engineering marvel of the modern age was boarded by 2,223 passengers, bound for New York on her maiden voyage. Just 2 days in to her 4 day journey only 706 would survive to tell the tale of the unsinkable Ship called the RMS Titanic. It’s story is now legendary across the globe and for 75 years it was just that, a story told by those that survived. Then on the 1st September 1985 Titanic was discovered on the sea bed, some 4Km (2.5 miles) down. Over the past 3 decades many salvage missions have recovered artefacts from the remains of the vessel and exhibited around the world.
ArtScience Museum in Singapore
The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore proudly announced the exhibition would come to its iconic ArtScience museum. on the 29th October 2011, 99 years 6 months and 17 days since that fateful night, we were invited to the opening of this very special collection.
The exhibition is located in the basement of the ArtScience museum and starts with being given a boarding card for the RMS Titanic. An exact copy of the ticket as it looked in 1912. Each card has the name of a passenger on board, the class of room and information about their family and reasons for travel.
We entered the museum and first learnt about the construction of the Titanic and her 2 sister ships the Olympic and Gigantic, the latter of which was renamed after the disaster to Britannic. Titanic contained over 3 million rivets, was 269 metres long and over 18 metres high. Blue prints for each floor of the ship are on the wall in the first room and are worth inspecting closely. I never knew the Titanic had an indoor pool and squash courts!
Reconstructions of rooms
Next are some very impressive reconstructions of parts of the ship. 1st class corridors with light fittings, plush carpets and even sweet perfume smells in the air. You get to see what a 1st class room would have looked like. In every section there are glass cases filled with an array of artefacts they recovered. From the smallest hair brush right up to large mooring posts. It’s quite amazing just to see these items especially as they spent 75 years on the ocean floor.
The contrast between 1st class and 3rd class is quite apparent. A reconstruction of a small room filled with bunk beds. Unlike the White Star Line’s rival companies, the titanic actually had fairly high quality 3rd class with a dining hall, silverware, separate rooms for families and even postcards given to each passenger as souvenirs.
On to the boiler room where you get to appreciate not just the size of the engines and the dangerous work they did but also the smell of burning coal. 29 boilers fired by 159 coal burning furnaces, powered the 3 huge propellers and the electric generators that kept going right up until the last moments of Titanic’s life.
There’s an interesting section about the iceberg that hit the ship and how the damage was done to seal her fate. You can even touch an ice berg but not for long as it really is freezing cold!
The artefacts are quite hauntingly beautiful due to their age, time underwater as well as the lives and many deaths they now symbolise. I was impressed how such exhibits would make you feel so much more connected with the actual event, especially being British and having grown up with the story of Titanic.
For me the most touching and ultimately upsetting part of the exhibition was the room filled with all the names of the 2223 passengers that were on Titanic. Categorised by class and staff it lists those that survived and the many that never made it. The card you were handed at the start of the exhibition contains one name of a passenger. Curious as to what happened to them, spend a moment to look them up. Feeling both joy at finding one of our passengers had survived and despair that one, including his entire family, perished that night really affected me in a way I never expected to be when entering the exhibition.
The exhibition is in Singapore until 29th April 2011 and is well worth visiting at the ArtScience museum. Tickets are SGD $21 for adults and $13 for children. Personally I think, considering the levels they had to go through to recover the artefacts and bring the story of Titanic to you, it’s worth every penny.