Visitors are handed a boarding pass as they enter the new "Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition" at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium. Each pass bears the name of one of the 2,223 passengers who sailed the maiden voyage of the most famous maritime disaster in history.
"The pass includes a little biography about the person, whether they paid third-class or first-class, and you find out if they lived or died by matching their name with a memorial wall. It's kind of morbid," museum president and CEO Lew Crampton says of the exhibit, which opens Saturday, Nov. 16.
Morbid, but necessary. The exhibit is a walk through the infamous passenger liner that departed Southhampton, England, on April 10, 1912, struck an iceberg and sank almost five days later. On display are some 100 artifacts recovered from the ship's wreckage trail, including cracked perfume vials, chipped china plates and bent chandeliers. Visitors can press their palms against a simulated iceberg and stroll through re-created first-class cabins and third-class steerage. One painting depicts women and children boarding lifeboats, leaving behind the men, as the ship's string ensemble plays "Nearer, My God, to Thee."
"That's what's so attractive about this show," Crampton says. "For all the Edwardian elegance and chest-thumping that this ship was unsinkable, what is richer than anything is the humanity, how people took leave of each other, and how some were saved and some were not."
"Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition" will be on view 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, 4801 Dreher Trail, in West Palm Beach. The exhibit will run through April 20. Tickets cost $11.50-$15. Call 561-832-1988 or go to SfScienceCenter.org.