Royal BC Museum"s Titanic Exhibition
I was at the Royal BC Museum on April 14, opening day for the Titanic exhibit. It was really a worthwhile experience – interesting and moving. There were many other people there and some even dressed in costume for the occasion! The lines moved quickly, and while I was waiting to get into the exhibit, I was handed a boarding pass in the name of an actual passenger. Everyone received a different one. Mine told me about Helen Walton, who was 19 and was returning to Michigan from a European honeymoon with her husband. She was travelling first class with a small dog and she was pregnant.
I was really interested in the stories of the people on board, why they were on the Titanic, and how they lived while they were on the ship. I started off in the departure area, there was a little theatre to the side but I walked the gangplank to the ship instead.
I saw the first class cabin, with rooms that would not be out of place at a grand hotel. The third class cabin was much more basic, with four bunks, but looked quite comfortable. There were sample menus for the first, second, and third class passengers and table settings. I was surprised at how nice the third class menus and china were. I spoke to a female steward (there were a few actors playing the parts of people on the ship) who was very knowledgeable and explained what life was like on board for the staff, what her lodgings were like (much nicer than other ships), and answered numerous questions.
I tried on a life jacket (quite heavy), tried out the wireless machine to tap out SOS, and touched the iceberg. Each room had artifacts that were recovered from the bottom of the ocean and some had items from the Royal BC Museum’s own collection to show what life was like in that era.
For me, the most moving room was the one with the ship’s hull and the actual D Deck door. It was eerie and I could see people walking by that door. Seeing it by itself, covered in rust, really made me think of the dreams that went down with the ship.
There was a room that told the BC stories of people whose lives were changed because of the Titanic. This was a nice touch.
At the end of the exhibit, there was a memorial wall that contained the names of all 2,200 passengers and their fate. It was a sobering experience, comparing the name on my board pass to the names on the wall. Helen Walton was one of the survivors.
I came away from the exhibit feeling as though I had learned a bit more about history and got to know, just a little, some of the people on Titanic.