As you may already know, the wreck of the Titanic was discovered by Dr. Robert Ballard, the oceanographer who is the head of the Mystic Aquarium’s Institute for Exploration. If you’ve been to the aquarium, you’ve probably already visited the exhibitions dedicated to the institute, which recounts the story of Ballard and his team finding the Titanic, as well as their efforts in locating other famous shipwrecks. Personally, I like visiting this section without my kids, as they’re more interested in frolicking penguins and beluga whales than learning about history. But hey, we were all like that at one point, right?
Interestingly, after Ballard discovered the wreck of the Titanic in the North Atlantic in 1985, he refused to remove any artifacts from the site as he felt it was a graveyard, and wanted to be respectful of the dead. (Obviously, he wouldn’t have done well as an Egyptologist, the main job requirement of which seems to be “an overt willingness to pillage and rob graves.”) He did, however, encourage other scavenger crews — such as RMS Titanic, who created this traveling exhibition — to respectfully remove some artifacts so they could be studied. According to their website, they have recovered over 5,500 items, a small portion of which are on display.
Obviously, something about this disaster continues to inspire and compel folks. Maybe it’s the epic scale of catastrophe, or the unique nature of such events that draws us in over and over again. I wonder if a century from now whether there will be a 9/11 exhibit? Or a museum? Or one dedicated to the Asian tsunami or Haitian earthquake. No doubt there will be movies and other entertainment (remember Titanic the musical?) — Hollywood seems unafraid to mine any disaster for potential box office riches.
Full disclosure: I may be the last person in the Free World who has never seen the James Cameron-directed Titanic (and I haven’t seen Avatar, either, although I did see The Wolfman on Friday and it was howlingly bad). On the plus side, I have a friend who collects vintage board games, so I have had a chance to play The Sinking of the Titanic Game.
I’m paraphrasing from memory, but on the inside of the box it said something to the effect of: “From one of the worst tragedies of the 20th century comes this fun new family game!” Basically, the board has a facsimile of the doomed ship that slowly “sinks” during the course of the game, and you have to get off and into a lifeboat before it finally goes down. Once in the lifeboat, you then have to navigate the dangerous open seas until you can be rescued.
Yay, family fun!
The exhibition runs through June 13, 2010. Tickets are $20; under 14 $15.