RIGA - If your heart still goes on for James Cameron’s 1997 movie Titanic, then the new Titanic exhibit in Riga will blow you away. Featuring more than 300 artefacts, as well as breathtaking replicas from the famous ship, the Titanic exhibit truly brings history to life.
The sinking of Titanic is without doubt the best-known peacetime maritime disaster, which cost more than 1500 human lives. Now, 103 years later, the Rigas Sporta Maneza, where Titanic: The Exhibition was opened on March 27, brings the story of Titanic with all of its humanity and tragedy to life.
The exhibition features more than 375 original items from the biggest private collections in the world. The reconstructions of a number of the ship’s rooms takes us back to the year 1912, when faith in technical progress was virtually unwavering and Titanic, the world’s biggest and most luxurious passenger ship of her time, seemed to embody the might of humankind.
One of the most moving elements of the exhibit is the personal stories of the passengers. Some stories’ endings are both tragic and romantic. For instance, some wives chose to stay behind with their husbands instead of climbing onto the lifeboats.
The exhibit also includes quotes from the passengers. One of the most poignant ones came from Jack Thayer, a first-class passenger: “There was no moon and I had never seen the stars shine brighter,” he said. “It was the kind of night that made one feel glad to be alive.”
In addition to the passengers’ stories, other fascinating details include their belongings.
From a diamond and sapphire ring to a platinum pendant with diamonds, some of the most beautiful pieces recovered from the Titanic are sparkling jewellery. The jewels were conserved - not restored - and many of the dazzling gems managed to keep their original lustre.
As well as jewellery, plenty of the Titanic passengers brought their own china and silverware. Each cup, plate, pitcher and bowl has its own interesting, distinct appearance.
One of the exhibit’s most unique pieces is a set of au gratin plates, discovered stacked neatly in rows. The au gratin dishes were found lined up inside of a wooden crate that had deteriorated over time - an image that is recreated in the exhibition.
Other artefacts include ship tools, postcards, currency, a pipe, a spittoon and playing cards.
Titanic: The Exhibition gives visitors a chance to feel that they are actually passengers on board Titanic. You will receive a boarding pass for Titanic, bearing the name of a one-time real ticket owner, followed by a voyage with the ship and her passengers. The visitors will walk through a first-class corridor, take a peek into different classes of cabin, admire the famous Grand Staircase and feel the chill of a real ice wall.
The 15 exhibition rooms describe the process of building the ship and just how exceptional she was, as well as the lives of passengers on board, their thoughts and dreams, the tragic collision and the consequences of the disaster. The last rooms will describe Titanic’s story after the disaster: the discovery of the wreck in 1985 and the extremely complicated expeditions to the bottom of the ocean.
Visitors of all ages will enjoy this exhibit. There is also a gift shop for those who want to take a piece of Titanic home with them. Visitors can purchase everything from T-shirts, stuffed animals and captain’s hats for kids to cups, key chains and much more.
The experience will give guests a better perspective and appreciation of what happened on that fateful night. It also ensures that visitors will remember the story of Titanic, especially the heroism of the crew and the passengers that were lost that night.
The exhibition of Titanic will be the largest of its kind to take place in Northern Europe to date.
Exhibition opening hours: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
More information can be found at: www.titanic.lv
P.S. Interesting Facts about Titanic705 passengers survived, but 1,523 were lost. Even if all 20 lifeboats had been filled to capacity, there would only have been room in them for 1,178 people. Titanic was the largest moving object of its time. It cost $7.5 million to build Titanic and was insured for $5 million. It would have cost about $400 million to build the ship today. More than 10,000 men worked on Titanic for nearly three years to construct the hull and internal structure. More than 100,000 people gathered to watch Titanic sail off to New York. For a third-class passenger, a ticket was $40 ($770 today). For a first-class passenger, tickets were $4,500 a piece ($90,000 today). It took about 60 pounds of coal for the ship to move 60 feet.