Monday, August 27, 2012

Back From Las Vegas: the Titanic Exhibition

I just got back from my trip to Las Vegas.  I didn't gamble (I don't do that) but wifey and I saw some great shows, including the Titanic Exhibition, the Rat Pack is Back, Taylor Hicks and Cirque Du Soleil, "Love," an aerial acrobatic performance to Beatles' music and imagery.

One night wifey snuck downstairs to the casino and resolved to spend $1 in pennies playing the penny slot machines.  She won $75 and quit while she was ahead.

Cup and Saucer from the Titanic
The only show I really cared about was the Titanic Exhibition at the Luxor Hotel.  Upon entering the exhibition, you are given a card with the facts of one of the passengers, their name, cabin class, and the facts of their voyage.  Mine was of a gentleman traveling third class, on his way to Detroit to take a job open for him there.  At the end of the exhibition, you will confront a large white board listing all of the passengers and crew of the Titanic, and whether they survived the sinking.  I knew mine had undoubtedly died, being a male, third class passenger, who had almost no chance of gaining one of the too-few seats in a lifeboat.

We saw a recreation of  a third class cabin and a first class cabin, as well as a replica of the Grand Staircase, complete with the clock and the cupid figure, the ornamental railings and the white floor with black tile inlays.  There was also a replica of the large round skylight above it, with the decorative iron grill.  It was truly impressive.  We had our photograph taken, standing on the fifth step. (See an example here of some other couple on the Grand Staircase).

Actual artifacts recovered from the Titanic's debris field included pots and pans, saucers and cups, and ceramic "au gratin" bowls.  These are the bowls found stacked neatly in rows in the sand of the debris field, their wooden storage box long ago eaten away by sea organisms.  The bowls are still perfect, white and unblemished.

Au Gratin Bowls in Titanic's Debris Field
There was a lady's diamond ring, still beautiful and brilliant in the soft lighting, as well as various personal effects, including wallets. dollar bills, coins and clothing, postcards and letters with the writing still visible.  A perfume salesman's fragrance samples were also on display, still smelling sweetly after 100 years, most of which was spent on the ocean floor.  There was a pair of sink faucets from a first class cabin, one marked Hot and the other Cold.

The display has back lighted signs in each room, telling the history of the Titanic, as well as films running showing the building of the Titanic, the retrieval of artifacts, and an illustration of how the ship sank and broke up during sinking.  There is a huge model of the sunken Titanic, showing how it looks today in its watery grave.

One of the diplays is a mock-up of the promenade deck, where you walk on the deck, viewing a black sea at night, the black and moonless sky brilliant with stars, as it was on the night the great ship sank, April 15, 1912.

The most impressive display is the last one, which is a huge chunk of the Titanic itself.  You walk into a dimly lit room and find yourself face to face with a metal wall, actually a piece of the hull, complete with rivets and portholes, still containing glass, though it is broken and much of it missing.  This is the famed "Big Piece," which broke off when the Titanic broke in two.  It was recovered in 1998 and weighs 15 tons.  Viewing it, you feel you are looking at the side of the Titanic, and you are...well, a comparatively small piece of it anyway.

Viewing these artifacts, I felt I was communing with the dead.  Seeing them is a reminder of the terrible loss of human life that occurred when the Titanic sank.   These objects are more than curiosities, they are the bits and pieces of hundreds of human lives.  The mood is somber, respectful and almost reverent.

Consulting the listing of passengers and crew, I learned that my passenger, Frank John Goldsmith of England, had indeed died on the Titanic.  Mrs. Chomper's passenger survived.

Before leaving, we visited the gift shop where I bought a small piece of coal from the Titanic, and two third class coffee cups (exact replicas), white with the dark red insignia of the White Star Line.

You can view a lot of these displays at the links provided above, as well as here and here.


Always On Watch said...

You saw The Rat Back Is Back? How was it?

Tom Stevens in the best Dean Martin impersonator I've ever seen. Yes, I've seen him in person a few times in Steubenville, Ohio. I even have a picture of the two of us all snuggled up. Hehehe.

HERE is a video of Tom Stevens impersonating Dean Martin; start at time marker 0:50.

Tom Stevens does a lot of impersonations, most of them very convincing.

Your description of the Titanic exhibit sounds fascinating. Like a lot of people, I've always been interested in that terrible tragedy. My father was a bit of an expert on all matters Titanic, but I decided to put more time into learning about Lizzie (as you know).

Stogie Chomper said...

AOW, I thought the Dean Martin impersonator was the best of the four. He looked very much like Dean Martin and sang like him too.