An exhibit detailing the world’s worst maritime disaster is now open just across the Missouri River from Iowa — at the Omaha Children’s Museum. “Titanic, the Artifact Exhibit” contains more than 300 items recovered from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, two-and-a-half miles down, everything from the ship’s bell and water-stained letters to clothing and jewelry. Exhibit designer Mark Loch was on one submarine team that brought up some of the items on display. Loch says the tragedy still speaks to people in a very powerful, emotional way, even 92 years later. Billed as unsinkable by its designers and the White Star Line, the Titanic struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage in April of 1912 and went down enroute to New York. 15-hundred passengers died; 700 survived. Loch says visitors to the museum are handed a reproduction of a Titanic boarding pass when they first enter the exhibit. The flip-side of the boarding pass has the name of a Titanic passenger with a description of that person, what class accommodations they had and details about their lives. Later, visitors learn whether the person lived or died. The exhibit features recreations of first- and third-class cabins, the Grand Staircase and a cafe. There’s also a massive sheet of ice, depicted like a berg, which people can touch. Loch says visitors are reminded — salt water freezes at a lower temperature than regular water, so the water into which the Titanic passengers and crew plunged was actually colder than the ice they’re touching. Loch says people find that part of the exhibit very memorable since they’re able to pull their hands away when the cold becomes too much, but the people on the Titanic could not escape it, as far too few lifeboats were available. One of the items recovered on Loch’s submarine mission was a rolled leather satchel, which is part of the exhibit. Inside the satchel were 65 small, glass perfume vials. As it was unrolled aboard ship, the discoverers of the item were able to smell the scents of the perfumes — even after some nine decades at the bottom of the ocean. The exhibit is in Omaha through September 6th. It’s one of four Titanic exhibits touring the world which have been seen by 14-million people. For more information, surf to “www.ocm.org” or call (402) 342-6164.
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