Titanic exhibit back in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA - December 20, 2012

It's been the subject of two major motion pictures, including James Cameron's 1997 masterpiece which claimed eleven Oscars.

The ill-fated cruise liner was the subject of a record-breaking exhibit at the Franklin Institute eight years ago. Now that exhibit is back, greatly updated.

It's there through April 7th. What makes the new exhibit so compelling is its focus on people. When you enter, you receive a boarding pass with the name of someone who actually sailed on Titanic.

You might be an employee, or someone who booked passage in first-, second-, or third-class. Each had its unique level of amenities.

As you wind your way through the exhibit, you'll be impressed by replicas of ship features like the grand staircase and the staterooms. But you'll also have many opportunities to see actual artifacts harvested from the ocean floor near where Titanic came to rest.

The ship itself is considered a gravesite, so expeditions take nothing from the wreck. But pieces of the ship and passengers' possessions which landed on the open ocean floor are considered "fair game", and you'll see everything from the ship's mechanical parts and plumbing fixtures to possessions of individual passengers...things as mundane as perfume bottles and razors.

There are articles of jewelry, too. When you first walk in, you catch the sense of anticipation and excitement passengers must have had. But as you progress, the tone gets "darker" and you end up in the iceberg room which recreates the crash, and then a memorial room where you can study lists of those aboard and see how each fared...your own passenger if you like.

The exhibit was put together by a creative team and the corporation which owns the Titanic name and artifacts. The leader of each has been down to the wreck. Scientists tell us Titanic is succumbing slowly to the forces of nature more than two miles below the surface of the North Atlantic. Immense pressure and bacteria are combining to destroy the hulk. A day is likely to come when the vessel will no longer look like a ship. As it is, entering the confines of the ship is risky business and likely to become more so.

The exhibit will be open daily at the Franklin Institute through April 7th. It's time-ticketed and at extra cost. Tickets are available online, and it's recommended that you purchase in advance.

There's no guarantee tickets will be available if you just show up in person and try to buy day-of. There are discount admissions available in the evening.

For more information and to buy tickets, access the Titanic Exhibition or phone 215-448-1200.

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