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Titanic on the silver screen

Photo by Flickr member Stefan.

Whether you’re a fan or not of the 1997 blockbuster “Titanic,” it’s safe to say you’re probably familiar with one of the movie’s most iconic scenes – Jack and Rose “flying” on the front of the ship. During our photo opportunities here at the Titanic exhibit, that’s been one of the most recreated scenes – and funniest outcomes.

Titanic TV Guide

Photo by Jim Ellwanger.

Movies have been made about the sinking of Titanic for decades. The first movie about Titanic was released just 29 days after the tragedy. “Saved from the Titanic” starred survivor Dorothy Gibson and told the story of her rescue from the ship.

If you’re curious to learn more about the history of the Titanic in film, join us tonight at Henry Ford Museum for the last of our Tuesday evening lecture series. Tonight’s expert is our own Ron Bartsch, senior projection manager for The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre. Ron is an avid Titanic historian and memorabilia collector. He’s also been a member of the Titanic Historical Society since 1984.

In tonight’s lecture, Ron will talk about how the Titanic sinking has been portrayed on screen for the last 100 years.

As part of tonight’s Titanic Tuesday programming, the museum will be open until 9 p.m.

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

A magnificent Titanic talk and late hours at museum

Tonight Henry Ford Museum is open late and there are evening ticketed entries available for Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition.

Titanic The Ship MagnificentDon’t miss the opportunity to hear an intriguing talk by Bruce Beveridge, honorary lifetime member of the British Titanic Society, the Titanic Historical Society and the Irish Titanic Historical Society.

He is a founding member and trustee of the Titanic Research and Modeling Association, and was the technical adviser on the plans, prints and models released by Hahn Titanic Plans. His books include, Titanic – The Ship Magnificent Volumes I and II and Olympic & Titanic.

Beveridge’s presentation begins at 7 p.m. near the museum plaza. Admission to the museum is required for the evening hours and lecture. Members are free.

Late hours and a lecture – join us for Titanic Tuesdays

Tuesday, May 8, is the next installment of our monthly series – Titanic Tuesdays.

The series – offered the second Tuesday of each month through September – features a 7 p.m. presentation and gives visitors an after-hours opportunity to see Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition as well as the other exhibits in Henry Ford Museum. When planning your visit, keep in mind that entry to Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition is timed, and we highly recommended that you purchase tickets in advance. The final entry to the exhibition is 9 p.m. on Titanic Tuesdays. (The rest of the museum closes at 9 p.m.)

This month’s presenter is award-winning filmmaker Stephen Low who will share his experience making the IMAX film TitanicaThe film is currently being shown at The Henry Ford’s IMAX Theatre.

A look at the Titanic from the IMAX film - Titanica

A look at the bow of the Titanic from the IMAX film Titanica.

The film was shot during the expedition of the Russian research vessel Akademik Mstislav Keldysh to the North Atlantic. The team made 17 dives in two state-of-the-art submarines. A self-proclaimed “ocean freak,” Low is known as a hands-on director. As a diver and adventurer, he understands the demands of the IMAX format like few other directors. Bringing the ill-fated Titanic to the big screen had been Low’s dream since its discovery in 1985.

Edward Tenner speaking at Titanic Tuesday at Henry Ford Museum

April’s presenter was Edward Tenner who is a historian of technology and culture and a visiting scholar at Rutgers University, the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center and Princeton University.

Upcoming presenters for Titanic Tuesday include underwater photographer Tony Gramer, archeologist Ken Vrana, author Bruce Beveridge, and Titanic Historical Society member Ron Bartsch of The Henry Ford.

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition runs through Sept. 30, 2012. Vistors can purchase tickets online or through the call center at 313-982-6001.


A grand remembrance – the Titanic anniversary event

Saturday’s Titanic 100th Anniversary Event at Henry Ford Museum was a fitting honor to the innovation and tragedy that is so profoundly the story of the Titanic.

Photos with the captain

Guests had many opportunities for photographs with the captain.

At 7 p.m., a string quartet played classical music as guests were greeted by the captain with a champagne toast and an elegant first-class inspired selection of hors d’oeuvres. Photo opportunities were abundant.

Titanic Anniversary Event - Henry Ford Museum

Many guests arrived at the event in attire inspired by the era.

Many of the 425 people attending were costumed in attire of the era. Some donned authentic vintage apparel and accessories or replicas of clothing of the time. Many wore elegant gowns and suiting inspired by Elizabethan styling, while others dressed in contemporary cocktail and evening wear. It was a handsome crowd.

Titanic Anniversary Event - Henry Ford Museum

Passengers examine their boarding passes and receive instructions from a presenter before entering the exhibition area.

During the event, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition was open to guests, who visited with each other as they prepared to receive their boarding passes.

Titanic Anniversary Event - Henry Ford Museum

Guests dine on a meal inspired by the White Star Line’s second-class menu.

Guests were called for a late-night dinner inspired by menu items similar to what would have been served to second-class passengers aboard the Titanic.

Titanic Anniversary Event - Henry Ford Museum

There was dancing to live music under the DC -3 in the center of Henry Ford Museum.

Dessert and dancing with live music followed.

Titanic Anniversary Event -- Henry Ford Museum

Gentlemen stroll down the first-class corridor in Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition.

Saturday night’s event graciously celebrated the innovation of the ship, while it thoughtfully memorialized those many lives lost to tragedy on that fateful voyage.

Titanic Anniversary Event - Presenters on the Grand Staircase at Henry Ford Museum

Authentically costumed presenters from The Henry Ford visited with guests. Here they pose on the replica of the ship’s grand staircase

Guests were Titanic history enthusiasts, Titanic movie lovers, those touched personally by the story, and those interested in experiencing the ship’s history in a unique way.

Titanic Anniversary Event - Henry Ford Museum

A visitor takes a tour of the exhibition during the anniversary event.

One guest, Janet Rheume, shared that both her paternal and maternal families (unrelated at the time) were affected by the tragedy. Her father’s mother had passage booked along with her family to travel on the Titanic. A late change in plans and a need to accommodate more family members resulted in the need to cancel and make the journey to the United States on another ship – avoiding the tragedy. Her maternal grandmother was related to the ship’s captain – Edward Smith.

Titanic Anniversary Event - Henry Ford Museum

Guest Lynn Anderson arrived dressed in an expertly tailored replica of the boarding ensemble worn by the character Rose from James Cameron’s box office hit Titanic. The movie in 3D is now showing at The Henry Ford IMAX.

People eagerly shared stories of collecting replica artifacts, their quest for costumes and dressing for the event, their love of James Cameron’s movie, their interest in the deep-sea expeditions to the site of the wreckage, and – mostly – how they are touched by the stories of the many people whose lives were forever changed. The evening ended with a moving tribute.

The story of the Titanic continues to fascinate because of its grand style, innovative design and complex construction. Before its voyage, the Titanic was celebrated for its potential and all that it could be. After its tragic demise and the unthinkable happened to the “unsinkable,” that modern marvel’s place in history took a fortuitous turn. A multitude of lessons were (and continue to be) learned from what the Titanic became. Henry Ford once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” The Titanic disaster has proved that – from it came profound reforms in safety for the shipping industry.

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition is at Henry Ford Museum through Sept. 30, 2012. James Cameron’s Titanic: An IMAX 3D Experience is now showing as is the fascinating documentary Titanica  – an IMAX adventure that takes the audiences to the ocean floor to the Titanic wreckage prior to artifact recovery.

For more photos from the event, be sure to visit The Henry Ford’s Facebook album.

Titanic Trivia Tuesday: Constructing the Titanic

One hundred years ago, Titanic departed Cherbourg, France, before heading on to Queenstown, Ireland – the last stop before heading across the Atlantic Ocean on its maiden, and only, voyage.


Many wealthy and famous passengers had booked their passage on the fabulous new ship, so that they could be the first to experience the most luxurious and largest ship of its time – but let’s take a look at what made the ship so impressive in the first place.


Titanic was 882 feet 9 inches long, 92 feet 6 inches in breadth. Titanic weighed 46,329 tons or 103,575,360 pounds. Titanic was constructed by the shipbuilding firm of Harland & Wolff at their Queen’s Island Works in Belfast, Ireland, one of the largest shipyards in the world; Titanic was built alongside its sister ship, the Olympic, by over 15,000 Irish shipyard workers.

Bow Construction of Titanic - Credit Titanic The Artifact Exhibition

Constructing the bow of the Titanic. (Credit – Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition)

The hull was made of overlapping steel plates, each one-inch thick, and fastened by over three million rivets. Other amazing elements of the ship included 29 boilers that were each more than fifteen feet high, three large anchors (one for each side of the ship’s bow and one center anchor, stowed on the bow deck), one four-bladed center propeller and two three-bladed side propellers that were each 23 1/2 feet across and weighed 28 tons each.


Boilers inside the Titanic

Boilers inside the Titanic.

It’s amazing to see the scale of the propellers to the men standing next to them, isn’t it?

When construction had finished, the final cost was approximately $7.5 million – or more than $123 million in today’s money.


Now, what about that “unsinkable” claim?


Titanic was described in the popular press as “practically unsinkable.” This was not unusual – for decades, ships had watertight compartments to limit flooding in case of an accident, and the press used this phrase as a matter of routine for many years. After Titanic sank, the story of her loss was turned into a modern fable and the original description “practically unsinkable” became just “unsinkable” in order to sharpen the moral of the story. No educated person in 1912 believed that Titanic was truly unsinkable, but it was difficult to imagine an accident severe enough to send her to the bottom.


Have you seen Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at Henry Ford Museum yet? What other grand elements of the Titanic fascinated you?

Titanic Trivia Tuesday: On board the Titanic

On April 2, 1912, from the shipyard in Belfast, Ireland, tugs pulled the Titanic out to sea and her engines were fired up. The crew practiced different turns, stopping, turning a full circle and running at different speeds; this “test drive” took less than a day.


These sea trials, though brief, were satisfactory enough for the Titanic‘s builders and owners – but the interior of the ship was far from completed. Construction continued in the passenger areas after the ship headed across the Irish Sea and arrived in Southampton, England, with painting and installation of furniture, carpets and fixtures finished up following the two-day journey before her maiden voyage.

The Titanic, docked at Southampton

The Titanic, docked at Southampton.

But once Titanic was ready to welcome passengers on board, it was quite a luxurious sight for them to behold. Here are some facts about life aboard the “Ship of Dreams”:


The cost of a first-class ticket on Titanic to New York was $2,500, approximately $57,200 today. The most expensive rooms were more than $103,000 in today’s currency.

First Class Cabin

A recreation of the first-class cabins on the Titanic.

A third-class ticket on Titanic cost $40, which is approximately $900 in today’s currency. Up to 10 people resided in third-class rooms. The rooms were divided by male and female, oftentimes splitting families.

Third Class Cabin

As third-class accommodations went in 1912, this was actually pretty swanky.

First-class passengers had the luxury of paying for their leisure while on board: a ticket to the swimming pool cost 25¢, while a ticket for the squash court (as well as the services of a professional player) cost 50¢.


Sixty chefs and chefs’ assistants worked in the Titanic’s five kitchens. They ranged from soup and roast cooks to pastry chefs and vegetable cooks. There was a kosher cook, too, to prepare the meals for the Jewish passengers.

Au Gratin Dishes - Titanic

These au gratin dishes, originally organized in a wooden crate that has since rotted away, were found perfectly stacked on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, not far from the Titanic.

Titanic had its own newspaper, the Atlantic Daily Bulletin, prepared aboard the ship. In addition to news articles and advertisements, it contained a daily menu, the latest stock prices, horse-racing results, and society gossip.


There were only two bathtubs for the more than 700 third-class passengers aboard the Ship.


The forward part of the boat deck was promenade space for first-class passengers and the rear part for second-class passengers. People from these classes thus had the best chance of getting into a lifeboat simply because they could get to them quickly and easily.


Have you been to see Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition yet? What elements of the ship’s passenger areas or artifacts intrigued you most?

Titanic’s maiden weekend

Saturday was the opening of Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition. The woman in the video below was one of the first to go through with the 9:30 entry group. She describes her emotional journey through the exhibit.

Midway through the day, tickets (which are purchased for designated entry times) were completely sold out.

Boys with boarding passes -- Titanic

Two young passengers show their boarding passes.

There was definitely a buzz of excitement as visitors were given boarding passes and waited their turn to explore the 10,000-square-foot exhibit area.

First-class hallway

Visitors walk through a replica of hallway that would have led to the Titanic’s first-class accommodations.

It was great to hear some of the comments throughout the exhibit.

Grand Staircase -- Titanic

This couple is photographed on the Grand Staircase. Photos are available for purchase at the end of the journey.

The exhibit brings people into the story of the ship from before its construction to its tragic demise.

Boy with artifact - Titanic

More than 250 of the 300 artifacts in Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition have never before been shown in Michigan.

The exhibition appeals to visitors of all ages.

Memorial Wall - Titanic

At the end of the exhibition, visitors will learn the fate of their passenger on the Memorial Wall.

The exhibit is at the museum until Sept. 30. It’s recommend that visitors purchase tickets in advance. The documentary Titanica is showing in the IMAX Theatre, and James Cameron’s Titanic: An IMAX 3D Experience opens April 4.


A Titanic voyage and historic drive: A look at this weekend

It’s a great weekend to explore two great stories at one great place.

Saturday is opening day for Titanic: An Artifact Exhibition at Henry Ford Museum. Tickets are for timed entrances beginning as early as 9:30 a.m. This 10,000 square foot exhibition features more than 300 artifacts, complete room recreations as well as a replica of the ship’s grand staircase.

Ceramic Jug, Various China, Egg Cup - Credit Titanic The Artifact Exhibition

More than 250 of the 300 artifacts displayed at Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition have never before been shown in Michigan.

Moving through this exhibition, visitors will be taken back in time to 1912 and travel through the life of the Titanic – from the ship’s construction, to its on-board passengers, its ill-fated voyage and the amazing artifact rescue efforts that involved divers returning to the sunken ship in recent years.

Check out the website for more information on ticket prices and available entry times.

Titanica - the movie

The IMAX documentary film Titanica also opens this weekend. Our blogger gave it nice review, and says the whole family will enjoy it. The 45-minute movie is a great accompaniment to the exhibition.

The film has a start time every hour in The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre throughout the days Saturday and Sunday beginning at 10 and 11:05 a.m.; 12:10, 1:15, 2:20, 3:25, 4:30, 5:35 and 6:40 p.m.

1912 Rambler Knickerbocker Limousine - The Henry Ford

This 1912 Rambler Knickerbocker Limousine would have carried first-class passengers of the Titanic in style. You can see the car for yourself in our Driving America exhibition..

While you’re here, be sure to make the rounds through the museum and spend some time enjoying the story that Driving America tells. Check out the interactive kiosks, explore the Driving America Timeline, take a lunch break at Lamy’s Diner and then sit back and relax while you watch the short film in the Drive-in Theater.

Oh, and be sure to take a look at our newest artifact in Driving America.

If you aren’t  yet, it’s a good time to consider becoming a member at The Henry Ford. It has its privileges, and with all the good things happening in the museum and the upcoming April 14 opening of Greenfield Village, it’s the perfect time to put a membership to use.


Prepare to set sail for Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition

Peering into a luxurious first-class cabin. Admiring the grand staircase. Touching a replica iceberg so cold, it’s hard to keep your hand there.

Ice Wall

The ice wall

These are among the many moving elements you’ll explore when you tour Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition - the largest touring exhibition of these incredible artifacts – when it opens this Saturday, March 31 at Henry Ford Museum.


This experience will be especially poignant, as this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic tragedy, when the world’s largest ship collided with an iceberg and sank into the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912, claiming more than 1,500 lives.



The bow of the Titanic

Through this 10,000 square-foot, newly-redesigned and expanded exhibition, you’ll be able to see more than 300 artifacts, 250 of which have never been displayed in Michigan.

Perfume Vials 2 - Titanic The Artifact Exhibition

Perfume vials (credit – Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition)


White Star Line Dishes - Credit Titanic The Artifact Exhibition

White Star Line dishes (credit – Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition)

The personal connection to Titanic‘s passengers is everywhere. You can walk through extensive room re-creations, have your photos taken near the full-scale replica of the Grand Staircase – and then turn the corner to see the actual base of the main cherub statue, which adorned that ornate staircase.


Grand Staircase - Credit - Titanic The Artifact Exhibition

You’ll be able to climb the Grand Staircase for a photo. (Credit – Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition)

And from the moment you step into the exhibition, you’ll be quickly drawn back in time to 1912. Each person will receive a replica boarding pass of an actual passenger aboard Titanic; from there, you’ll “travel” through the life of the grand ship from its construction to the lives of its on-board passengers, its ill-fated voyage and the amazing artifact rescue efforts by divers returning to the underwater site in recent years. (Interesting note: Many of the artifacts in the exhibit can also be seen in TITANICA, which also opens March 31 at The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre – and read our blogger’s take on this nonfiction docudrama here.)


Authentically re-created first and third class cabins in Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition give you a chance to see what it was like to stay aboard Titanic, surrounded by real dishes, personal effects and elements of the ship itself, like pieces of the deck benches that allowed travelers to take in the fresh air and see the ocean below.

Third Class Cabin - Credit Titanic The Artifact Exhibition

Third-class cabin (credit – Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition)

At the end of the exhibit, take your boarding pass to the memorial wall – and learn the fate of your traveler.

Memorial Wall - Credit Titanic The Artifact Exhibition

What was the fate of your passenger? (Credit – Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition)

But the exhibition isn’t the end of the Titanic exploration. During its run, we will also host a variety of programming related to this historic event, including Titanic Tuesdays, a speaker and author series we’re offering on the second Tuesday of each month. Be sure to check our website for details of these special evenings, which feature an array of special speakers –  including Stephen Low, creator of the IMAX film TITANICA - and will allow you to explore Henry Ford Museum after hours.


Special timed tickets must be purchased ahead of time, so be sure to get these early – we do expect many of the time slots to sell out each day! Ticket prices and purchase information can be found on our website.


What part of the Titanic story fascinates you the most?

Titanica: An amazing IMAX exploration experience

When I was a kid, I loved the TV show “In Search of …” It was narrated by Leonard Nimoy who played Mr. Spock on Star Trek. With its contemplative baratone guide, the show trekked the earth seeking answers to some of life’s mysteries. Viewers were taken in search of Big Foot, Noah’s Arc, killer bees, mummy’s curses, Amelia Earhart, pyramid secrets, UFOs, tidal waves, Dracula and more.

But the episode I remember waiting for in great anticipation was “In Search of … the Titanic.” Which, in 1981, had not yet been found. So, obviously, they didn’t find it on the show. True to form, viewers were left with more questions than answers. I just remember being completely bummed out.

Well, ladies and gentleman, Leonard Nimoy has left the building.

As you know, the Titanic has since been found (in 1985). You may not know, however, that the IMAX documentary Titanica takes you to the depths of the ocean – in the way that only IMAX can – to see it for yourself.

Titanica opens Saturday, March 31, on The Henry Ford’s huge IMAX screen –  the same day as Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition opens in Henry Ford Museum.

Titanic exhibit space

I tried to get a peek at what’s going on in the museum with Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit opening next week, March 31. All I could see was a hugely expanded exhibit space.

Titanica is a 45-minute documentary that chronicles an international deep-sea expedition to the wreck site of the R.M.S. Titanic, which sank in April 1912. Although it was filmed in 1992, Titanica takes viewers on an undersea journey with the spectacular clarity of 70 mm IMAX film. The Henry Ford is showing a brand new print of the film, and although there are some clues in the documentary that give away when it was filmed, the clarity of IMAX movie-going remains unparalleled.

Titanica tells the story of the ship and expedition through the eyes a survivor of the wreck and the explorers looking for it. The survivor, Eva Hart, was seven in 1912 when she and her parents boarded the vessel to journey across the ocean.

I found myself riveted.

I have to confess that the idea of underwater sea travel makes me a little nervous. So, the thought of being more than 12,500 feet deep in the pitch black sea – in a Russian submersible the size of (maybe) a minivan – kept me slightly on edge. Add that fact to the touching recollections of Eva Hart, the excitement of the explorers as they found and filmed the remnants of the ship and its artifacts, and the underlying awareness of the magnitude of the sadly tragic consequences of the Titanic’s sinking, I found the movie very engaging.

Ron Bartch in the projection room after a preview of Titanica

Ron Bartch in the projection room after a preview of the IMAX documentary Titanica, opening at The Henry Ford March 31. Ron’s also getting ready to splice the more than 100 reels of 70 mm film for the April 4 opening of James Cameron’s Titanic in 3-D.

The Henry Ford’s IMAX projection manager, Ron Bartch, reminded me after the film, the IMAX experience takes you to and puts you in places that you cannot go. Boy, does it ever.

In some scenes of the film, viewers see untouched on the ocean floor artifacts that are now part of Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition: au gratin bowls, wine bottles, plates, to name a few. The ability to see some original photographs from the building of the Titanic on the huge IMAX screen also struck me with regard to the sheer enormity of the ship. The image of the Titanic became complete for me when the submersibles explored up close the ship’s iconic bow – made famous by another very popular Titanic movie that’ll also soon be showing at The Henry Ford IMAX Theater.

Titanica is most definitely a great accompaniment to vistors going to the artifact exhibit. It’s recommended by the filmmakers for audiences of all ages. I agree with that, but will say that younger children may have some challenges understanding what they are seeing. It may be more meaningful for them to see the artifact exhibit first so they can relate some of what they see in the movie with what they viewed at the exhibit.

Tickets for Titanica can be purchased online or by calling 313.271.1570,

I highly recommend this movie. In addition to being engaging and educational, it is sensitive in its telling of the Titanic tragedy. There are some curriculum resources that would be useful to educators, parents and anyone who wants to look a little deeper into the film. The IMAX experience at The Henry Ford is extraordinary because it is the largest IMAX screen in Michigan. 

James Cameron’s Titanic: An IMAX 3D Experience opens April 4. Stay tuned for more information.

Kristine Hass is a writer and long-time member of The Henry Ford.