Blockbuster crowds expected
for Enormous Exhibit Opening Feb. 18, 2000
Journalist for this story was William Mullen of the Chicago Tribune
"Elaborate, exacting re-creations of the Titanic's prow and grand Staircase will be among the spectacular backdrops at the MUSEUM OD SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY for the largest display ever of recovered artifacts from the doomed ship's watery grave"
"Museum officials believe the exibit, to open FEBRUARY 18th 2000, may rival in popularity two of the cities most legendary blockbuster museum events, the Fields Museum's 1977 Titankahmen show and the Art Institutes 1995 Monet retrospective."
"Beginning Thanksgiving day , Museum visitors will get a preview of the two of Titanic artifacts, including the badly corroded 6 foot long two ton bearing rod that workers will be cleaning over the next ten months and a stack of egg plates"
"When the main Exhibit opens, at its core will be more than 200 artifacts plucked from the wrecked luxury liner that sank 12,460 feet into the frigid North Atlantic on its maiden voyage in 1912, 450 miles off the coast of Newfoundland"
"Among the artifacts are personal items from the more then 1500 passengers
and crew who died in the worlds most famous marine disaster. They include
pieces of luggage, wallets, calling cards, jewelry, eye glasses and pieces
of passengers clothing and the ships crew uniforms."
"It will also include dozens of items fro the ship and the ships stores including, lamps, chandeliers, a decorative brass cherub, dishes, silverware, unopened jars of olives and wine, and their will be the largest piece of the Titanic's Hull ever recovered, a jagged 20- by 16 foot 16 ton portion of steel containing portholes."
"It's probably the biggest piece of the hull that will ever be recovered from the wreck." said Joe Schacter, the museum director of the exhibit projects. "we will have to take apart an entranceway of the building just to get it inside. Certainly this is the biggest temporary exhibit we've ever staged"
"Schacter said the museum had been negotiating for two years to mount the exhibit, which will run through Labor Day . The artifacts and the replicas of portions of the ship belong to the New York based RMS. Titanic Inc., the salvage company located Titanic in 1985"
"The company, which owns sole salvage rights, has recovered objects from the wreck on subsequent expeditions with the deep sea diving vehicles in 1987, 1993, 1996, and 1998"
" There will be another salvage operation next summer" said Schacter, "with plans to bring objects the find then , if at all possible directly to the exhibit"
"RMS. Titanic Inc., operates two permanent Titanic exhibits , one in
Orlando and the other in Memphis. Neither of the exhibits is of the size
or scope of the exhibit opening in Chicago, however, Schacter said."
"The entrance into the exhibit, being constructed especially for the museum, is a painstaking 50 foot high replica of the Titanic's Bow, made famous in the memorable love scene in the top grossing movie "Titanic". The prow of the ship will jut into the rotunda at the center of the museum"
"The museum is expecting such big crowds it will use a system of ticketing the will pulse 450 visitors into the exhibit every half hour, Schacter said."
"Each passenger will be given a ticket with a passenger or crew members name stamped on it. Towards the end of the exhibit it will be in an area memorializing the passenger and crews, where visitors will learn whether the name on their ticket was one of those who lived or died in the tragedy"
"Going into the exhibit, visitors will be able to walk up an exact replica of the grand stair case of the ships first class lounge, constructed from blue prints used to build the original ship. The ship's blue prints also were used to reconstruct both a first and third class cabin, so visitors can compare them, as well as first class passenger's dining room, the Veranda Cafe"
"We hope to have recordings of the sounds of people filtering through the cafe area, and also aromas of the foods served" said Schacter," so visitors will feel like they 're actaully in a restaurant."
The museum has injected several elements of it's own into the exhibit that will enable visitors to learn some science and technology lessons as the wend their way through the display. One will be a room depicting through scale down models the enormous engines and 29 three story high boilers that powered all of them, Another dark room will have a massive ice wall where visitors will be invited to place their hands for as long as they can withstand the cold (which will actually be 4 degrees warmer then the salt water that drowning passengers and crew died in when the ship sank).
"A special section will be devoted to the Eastland disaster in Chicago in 1915, when the excursion steamer rolled over and sank in the Chicago river killing 800 people."
"Because the Titanic did not have enough lifeboats to save the passengers and crew, stringent new maritime laws were passed" Schacter said. "The new laws indirectly caused the Eastland disaster, because , in complying with the law, Eastland's owners had the lifeboats put on top of the vessel, making it so top heavy it became unstable and prone to roll."
"The Titanic exhibit will take up three full galleries in the museum"
"It's just enormous," Schacter said. "it's a very expensive exhibit to mount and present"
"As such, the exhibit will be fairly expensive to see too. The museum will charge $10 for adult admission and $8 for children over and above the museums general existing admission fee of $7 for an adult and $3.50 for children. Admission for children with school groups will be $4."
"The museum is issuing coupons to visitors that give them $2 discounts
for advanced ticketing at the bearing rod and egg plate display, which
opened on November 25th, 1999. The bearing rod and egg plates are
on display in the museums Great Hall, the main entrance connected
to the museums underground parking garage."
Other sites of interest
Maritime History Virtual Archives
City of Chicago
Titanic preview at MSI
Titanic Exclusively at the MSI