The world's 10 best Titanic museums
The Titanic disaster endures.
Perhaps it's the tales of bravery and human spirit. Perhaps it's our fascination with the morbid. Perhaps it's because of the 1997 film.
Whatever the reason, Titanic museums span both sides of the Atlantic. Here are 10 of the best.
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic – Nova Scotia, Canada
The museum's Titanic exhibition is home to one of the most poignant pieces of Titanic history you will see.
It is a pair of small leather children's shoes worn by "the Unknown Child", recovered by the Mackay-Bennett – one of three ships that launched from Nova Scotia to help the rescue.
For decades, the identity of the child was a mystery until DNA testing in 2011 revealed him to be 19-month-old Sidney Leslie Goodwin. Sidney and his family were on their way from England to Niagara Falls for his father's new job. The entire family perished.
There is also a mortuary bag, numbered 41. It once held the personal effects of Edmund Stone, a steward on board the Titanic.
You can also view 50 artefacts rescued as flotsam in the days after the sinking.
A life-size replica of one of the lifeboats is also here. The Titanic had lifeboats sufficient to save less than half the ship's passengers. What happened to the originals, you ask? They were broken up by trophy hunters or quietly subsumed back into service with the White Star Line.
Titanic Experience - Cobh, Ireland
Just 43 of Cobh's 123 Titanic passengers survived - image: VisitCobh.com
Cobh was the last place the Titanic picked up passengers before striking out for the US. 123 passengers boarded. Just 43 survived. This is the story of those 123.
When you arrive, you're given a boarding card bearing a passenger's name. The immersive 30-minute video experience that follows includes a terror inducing-recreation of the sinking, complete with icy temperatures.
After you've recovered, it's time to learn about why the tragedy happened.
Then it's on to the story room, where you hear the stories of the 123 – and discover your fate.
Merseyside Maritime Museum – Liverpool, England
The lifejacket was worn by one of the lucky ones - image: Merseyside Maritime Museum
Within Liverpool's Merseyside Maritime Museum there is a superb, permanent exhibition exploring the city's connection to Titanic. The White Star Line, which operated the Titanic, had its head office in the city, one in 10 crewmembers was from Merseyside, and the bass violinist in "the band that played on", Fred Clark, was a Liverpudlian.
There are several artefacts from the ship to view. Most harrowing are those salvaged from the wreck. These include a pair of pince nez spectacles discovered in a leather case, and a cup and dish used by third class passengers.
There are also many relics connected with survivors. These include a lifejacket worn by an unknown passenger and an apron worn by Laura Francatelli – a maid to famed couturier Lady Lucy Duff Gordon. Francatelli and Gordon were both on Emergency Lifeboat 1, later called the "millionaires boat" in the media. It left the disaster scene with just 12 people on board – with room for 28 more.
The Titanic Museum - Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, US
The society and the museum's founder, Ed Kamuda - image: WAMC
This is the oldest Titanic museum in existence. It houses the Titanic Historical Society's collection of Titanic artefacts – all donated by survivors of the tragedy. This small but intimate museum showcases socialite Madeleine Astor's lifejacket, an oak chair from the ship's dining room and, most harrowingly of all, the wireless message warning Titanic of an iceberg ahead that never made it to the ship's commanding officers.
The society's founder, Ed Kamuda, started collecting Titanic pieces in 1963. "One of the survivors died," he told RoadsideAmerica shortly before his death in 2014.
"And his stuff was thrown in the city dump by his landlady who wanted to rent his apartment. I said, 'Somebody's gotta do something to preserve this stuff.'"
None of the items in the museum has been salvaged from the wreck. "Other museums cater to the grave robbers," Kamuda said. "We don't have anything to do with that."
Seacity – Southampton, England
Titanic at Southampton docks, a city where 500 families lost a loved one - image: Wikimedia Commons
The Titanic disaster affected Southampton more than any other city. Over 500 families in Southampton lost a loved one in the tragedy. And it was from here that the ship left on its fateful first voyage.
At Seacity's permanent Titanic exhibition, you can immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the port city in 1912, listen to the stories of survivors and view relics connected with the sinking. These include a pocket watch found on the body of a steward – stopped at the precise moment the ship sank.
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition – Las Vegas, US
A recreation of the grand staircase - image: Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition
If you're looking to gaze at artefacts recovered from the wreck of the Titanic, this exhibition in Vegas' Luxor hotel is for you. More than 250 are on display, including an unopened bottle of 1900 vintage Champagne.
You can also visit recreated bedrooms of third and first class rooms, walk down a recreation of the grand staircase and even struggle along the promenade deck – complete with frigid temperatures.
The Titanic Museum Attraction – Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, US
Did you make it out alive? Image: The Titanic Museum Attraction
First of all, there's a half-sized replica of the Titanic in the car park. Then there are the 400-odd relics brought up from the wreckage to look at – including a deck chair.
But most of all, there's the experience. As you enter the museum you are given an identity of one of the 2,344 passengers on board. Only at the end do you discover if you make it off the ship safely. Just a third did. You are escorted around by a member of the ship's crew and experience recreations of many of the ship's rooms.
The recreation of the outer deck on the ship's bow is one that will stay with you. It is freezing and dark, while the sounds of moaning and ice breaking surround you. There is even a trough of water regulated to 28 degrees Fahrenheit – the temperature of the water that night.
This is the sister museum of the Titanic exhibition in Missouri.
The Titanic Experience – Belfast, Northern Ireland
The museum's exterior is as remarkable as its contents - image: The Titanic Experience
This is an astonishing day out. Across nine rooms you immerse yourself in the story of the Titanic and experience the ship for yourself. Walk the decks just as Titanic's passengers did more than 100 years ago. Feel the heat of the engine room. Experience the ship's opulent interior. Discover a full-sized replica of one of the lifeboats.
The museum is housed in the Titanic Quarter – where the ship was built. Opened in 2012, it's fitting that the museum, designed to resemble the Titanic from the outside, is as magnificent as the ship.
The experience does not include any items recovered from the wreckage, although you can see many artefacts related to the ship.
You can also go on board SS Nomadic – the last White Star Line ship in existence.
The musuem won the title of World’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the 2016 World Travel Awards.
And then there's this:
Diving tours of the wreck
Tours of the wreck were expected to begin in 2018 - image: Wikimedia Commons
Diving tours of the wreck site were expected to begin in 2018.
The eight-day journeys, which set off from Newfoundland, Canada, include three three-hour submarine trips two miles down to the ship's resting place.
The cost? £86,500 or $108,000.
And here are two to keep a watch on
Could this again be a sight on the seas? Image: Wikimedia Commons
In December 2016, construction work began on a full-sized replica of the ship in China – 745 miles from sea. It will be docked in a reservoir in Sichuan province and feature faithful recreations of many of Titanic's original features, including the bedrooms, ballroom and swimming pool.
Australian tycoon Clive Palmer has also been working on a full sized replica, called Titanic II. Slated to finish in 2016, work has halted on the project for now.