Titanic artifacts exhibit to open in October at Lexington Center Museum

mmeehan1@herald-leader.comMarch 6, 2013 

  • IF YOU GO

    'Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition'

    When: Oct. 5-Jan. 26

    Where: Lexington Center Museum & Gallery

    Tickets: Prices will be announced at a later date.

  • Did you know?

    ■ The cost of a first-class Titanic ticket to New York was $2,500, which would be about $57,200 today. The two most luxurious suites cost $4,500, the equivalent of $103,000 today.

    ■ The ship had its own newspaper, the Atlantic Daily Bulletin, that contained news, ads, a daily menu, the latest stock prices, horse racing results and society gossip.

    ■ The 1898 novel Futility, 14 years before the sinking of Titanic, was about a ship, Titan, hitting an iceberg. It contained some uncanny similarities to the Titanic disaster, including the month (April), the length of the ship (Titanic 882.5 feet, Titan 800 feet), and the number of passengers (Titanic 2,200; Titan 2,000).

    ■ Even if all 20 lifeboats had been filled to capacity, there would have been room in them for only 1,178 people.

    ■ The wreck site is 963 miles northeast of New York and 453 miles southeast of the Newfoundland coast.

    Source: Titanic, The Artifact Exhibition

Cue a power ballad, stretch your arms out like you're king of the world and scribble "Oct. 5, 2013" in your sketch book, because a Titanic exhibit is coming this fall to Lexington Center Museum & Gallery.

The real, haunting remnants of the world's worst maritime disaster are featured in Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, a display that explains the fate of the 1,500 souls who perished in the cold Atlantic 101 years ago.

Bill Owen, Lexington Center CEO and president, said some folks can't keep from asking movie-inspired questions like, "Can we see the Heart of the Ocean?" — the mythical blue diamond that plays a key role in the romantic film.

Clearly, the lingering impact of the wildly successful 1997 movie Titanic indicates the lasting allure of the ship's tragic tale, he said. "It is one of the most compelling stories in American history."

The exhibit, organized by RMS Titanic Inc., a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions, will run from Oct. 5 to Jan. 26. About 25 million people have seen the traveling exhibit over the years. It has typically been shown in much bigger cities. Owen said securing the show is a bit of a coup for the relatively new museum.

Visitors to the Titanic exhibit receive a boarding pass featuring a real passenger's name before exploring the majestic ship's conception and construction, rooms and services and, finally, experiencing the hours before the disaster. At the end, he said, a memorial reveals to visitors whether their passenger survived.

"It's a pretty serious, museum-quality exhibit," Owen said. The announcement was made early so school groups could plan to attend in the fall, he said.

An international salvage effort with teams from the United States, France and Russia have retrieved artifacts from the wreck site during seven diving expeditions since 1987. Rare maritime finds, including documents and clothing, are among 5,500 items retrieved from the ocean floor, said Alexandra Klingelhofer, vice president of collections for Premier Exhibitions and RMS Titanic Inc.

The traveling exhibit contains 125 artifacts from the shipwreck and re-creations of rooms aboard the ship.

Klingelhofer said the leather suitcases and satchels used in 1912 and the consistently cold and dark temperatures at the wreck site preserved some amazing finds. Suitcases have been among the rescued items, she said, many looking as if they had just been packed. The items inside, including clothes and personal letters or post cards, have in some cases made it possible to link a suitcase to a specific passenger.

It is that personal connection that continues to draw people into the Titanic story, she said.

"It's so easy to imagine yourself as one of the passengers or one of the crew members," she said. "It is the story that is remembered and remembered and remembered. It's part of our global consciousness now."

Since opening in 2011, the Lexington Center Museum & Gallery, which took over the 10,000 square feet once occupied by the University of Kentucky Basketball Museum, has hosted one other major exhibit, Bodies Revealed, which showcased anatomy via real human bodies preserved in silicone. It drew about 46,000 people.

That success helped to secure the Titanic exhibit, Owen said. If the crowds return as he anticipates, it sets the stage for more world-class offerings in the space, he said.

"It proves the quality of the facility and the viability of the market," he said.


Did you know?

■ The cost of a first-class Titanic ticket to New York was $2,500, which would be about $57,200 today. The two most luxurious suites cost $4,500, the equivalent of $103,000 today.

■ The ship had its own newspaper, the Atlantic Daily Bulletin, that contained news, ads, a daily menu, the latest stock prices, horse racing results and society gossip.

■ The 1898 novel Futility, 14 years before the sinking of Titanic, was about a ship, Titan, hitting an iceberg. It contained some uncanny similarities to the Titanic disaster, including the month (April), the length of the ship (Titanic 882.5 feet, Titan 800 feet), and the number of passengers (Titanic 2,200; Titan 2,000).

■ Even if all 20 lifeboats had been filled to capacity, there would have been room in them for only 1,178 people.

■ The wreck site is 963 miles northeast of New York and 453 miles southeast of the Newfoundland coast.

Source: Titanic, The Artifact Exhibition


If you go

'Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition'

When: Oct. 5-Jan. 26

Where: Lexington Center Museum & Gallery

Tickets: Prices will be announced at a later date.

Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: BluegrassMoms.com.

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