Totally Doin’ It with Art and Emily: Titanic: the Artifact Exhibition

Art and Emily attended the opening event for Titanic: the Artifact Exhibition at the Science Museum of Minnesota. This exhibit includes many artifacts recovered from the Titanic and is the largest exhibit the Science Museum of Minnesota has ever hosted.

Art’s part

If you went to elementary school in Minnesota you don’t really need an excuse to go to the Science Museum. You know it’s always fun and amazing no matter what is happening. (Hooray for science!) So you’ll understand when I say: while the Titanic exhibit wasn’t the most fun I’ve had at the Science Museum, it was on par for interestingness and entertainment (which is to say, on a level much above most any other things you can do around town).

There’s not much I can tell you about the artifacts themselves that you probably haven’t already guessed: they’re old, fancy, and mostly really depressing. It’s cool to see a period of time captured and undisturbed by ocean. But really, I found that the artifacts weren’t as haunting as they were kind of neat—especially the pieces/photos of the ship itself. I had a good time comparing the change in the size of toothbrushes over the years.

But it is a Titanic exhibit after all, which carries with it a certain level of haunt and definite extreme sadness. Which is why every Titanic exhibit needs some levity. But they’re not just going to give it to you like so many free roast beef sandwiches and complimentary glasses of Guinness—you have to take it. So here’s what you do:

1)    Ask the period actors questions they can only answer out of character. For example:

•    Do you travel with the exhibit, or are you just here in St. Paul?
•    What is the password to the wireless internet?
•    Aren’t you glad women in France can’t vote and won’t be able to for another 60 years?

2)    When you get to the timeline of wireless dispatches, read them as a Twitter exchange. When the Titanic radios for help in 140 characters, that makes it more amusing, I found.

The one negative thing I have to say about this exhibit is about the crowd flow. The exhibit is not set up to maximize people movement. So, don’t be a sucker: break free from the the You Must Stay in a Line yoke of oppression and meander. You’ll keep your sanity if you do.

Emily’s part

I felt like a very classy lady attending the reception before the exhibit opening. First of all, there were passed hors d’oeuvres, which always make me feel fancy yet awkward because of the difficulty of eating and holding a drink at the same time (the Guinness was free, so there was a lot of drink holding). Plus, there was an ice sculpture filled with shrimp AND roast beef sandwiches with THREE sauce choices.

That’s classy.

There were also children at the reception, which elicited mixed feelings from me. While I did enjoy hearing from a particularly cool two-year-old (and I’m not just saying that because his mother got us into the event) about how great dinosaurs and roast beef sandwiches are, I did not enjoy that there were Irish step dancers there. I’m all for celebrating your heritage, but those curly synthetic hairpieces they wear are super creepy, and I was feeling really bad for the one boy in the group, who I assume was forced into it by his mother. You know, because of the dancing. And the skirt.

After the reception, we headed into the exhibit, where we were each handed a boarding pass with information about Titanic passenger. I was a woman in second class, and Art was a man in third class. Therefore, we assumed I was going to live (“Women and children first!”) and Art was a goner.

With this in mind, we entered the exhibit, which I have to say was pretty cool. I couldn’t believe that 1) they were able to pull all of those artifacts from the bottom of the ocean; 2) what they did pull up was so well preserved; and 3) all of the actors working at the exhibit managed to stay in character despite the fact that they (especially the attractive young ladies) were constantly being asked questions not relevant to the time period.

When we reached the end of the exhibit, we were able to look at a list of passengers to see if the person on our ticket survived. We both lived, which made me happy until I heard that my mom, dad, sister, and brother-in-law also all survived when they saw it in Milwaukee, which makes me think the entire thing is a big fat conspiracy.

You heard it here first, folks.

1 Comment so far

  1. Stephanie (slolee) on June 17th, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

    Emily – I am behind you 100% on the creepy hair pieces that the Irish step dancers have to wear. They practice where I went to college, so I would have to see them flounce around a good amount.

    In more relevant commenting, thanks for the reminder to see a neat exhibit. :D

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