The exhibition presents much more than how the ship collided with an iceberg and sank. How was it to travel on the huge luxury liner, which was the largest ship of the world back then? How were they able to build such a huge ship anyway? Who was able to afford a ticket and why did so many people spend their last pennies on one?

Through the rooms of the luxury liner

As you are strolling through the exhibition rooms, where the rarities – several hundred original pieces from the Titanic – are displayed in glass cabinets, the first thing to notice is that the image transmitted by the 1997 film appears to be quite realistic, perhaps against expectations. The exhibition presents the corridors of the luxury liner, a first-class room, the dining room and a third-class dorm room, all rebuilt as per original. When you are crossing these rooms, you almost feel like you are walking through the film set of the awarded drama.

The true stories of numerous passengers are displayed, with the help of a free audio guide, and most of them are no less tragic than those of the lovers Jack and Molly from the film. The stories are told by survivors or testified by objects that were recovered from the wreck when it was finally discovered nearly four kilometres down on the seabed in 1985.

A huge boat

The exhibition begins with a timeline of the most important events from the beginning of the 20th century, explaining why it was a sensation that such a huge luxury liner was built in 1912 and why the Titanic attracted a large crowd at its inauguration.

Another room presents the techniques and immense effort needed in its construction. More than 3000 wharf workers spent three years working on it. Two other ships were built together with the Titanic, its sister ships the Olympic and the Britannic, and the Titanic was first called Gigantic before being renamed.

A six-minute film presents original records about the construction and the naming ceremony, and it gives a fair depiction of how impressive the Titanic was for people, who had never ever seen such a huge ship.

The dark side of luxury

The Titanic’s interior was startling too: the luxurious first-class, where millionaires, politicians, actors and artists were accommodated on the ship’s first voyage, offered the services of a five-star hotel, with a salon, wellness area, fitness room and much more. The second-class rooms were also so well appointed that many passengers apparently thought they might have been accommodated in first-class by mistake.

When you leave the exhibition rooms of the first-class, it gets much darker and darker. In the next room we can see the environment of the crew who spent their days in the engine room. Fifty men had to share a room and keep out of sight of the passengers.

As the exhibition proceeds, again it becomes darker and an icy wind is heard blowing. The walls display the first warnings about ice, which were received by the Titanic via the maritime radio. And then came the iceberg.


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The sinking boat

The chaos that ensued is very well presented. On the walls are stories told by survivors. You can read about the musicians who – just like in the film – continued to play as the passengers took to the rescue boats. And there were the parents who threw their children into the lifeboats, not knowing if they would ever see them again. A wife refused to leave her husband behind, and a priest stayed on the doomed ship to pray with the people. Of course, as is well known, there were not enough lifeboats.

The shipwreck was discovered only 73 years later. A model of the wreck is presented in a showcase, with the objects recovered from the sea bed. There are some porcelain bowls in a sandbox, for instance, next to a photo showing the same bowls buried at the bottom of the sea. An information board explains the difficulties of the recovery attempts and the slow decay of the once-great ship.

The ticket to the exhibition reproduces a ticket for a trip on the Titanic, and carries the name of a passenger on that maiden voyage in 1912. In the last room are the names of all the passengers and crew and whether they died or survived, and whether the passengers travelled in first-, second- or third-class berths. So you can find out whether “you” survived or were lost at sea.

It is immediately noticeable from the lists that there was a big difference in the number of survivors from the different passenger classes. Our tickets, we discovered, contained names from first-class, so our chances were better . . .


Titanic Exhibition

Budapest, District VI, 26 Király utca

Daily 9am to 8pm (Tickets available from 8.30am to 6.30pm)

Entry: HUF 3400 for adults, HUF 2200 for children (further discounts are available, on weekends an additional fee of HUF 500 applies)

See www.titanickiallitas.hu

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