Saturday, August 9, 2014


Spent this morning at the (new, multi-million dollar) Titanic Exhibition in Belfast.

I'll admit to a certain amount of confusion over the existence of a Titanic Exhibition in Belfast.  After all, do you really want to celebrate your part in building the ship which rather famously sank, killing over a thousand people?

I imagine that the exhibit was the product of a committee meeting.  The Visit Belfast people were sitting around thinking about how to increase tourism.  Someone opens it up for discussion with, "What is Belfast known for?"  Someone replies, "IRA bombings and building the Titanic."  The first guy says, "What was the second one again?"

So, yeah, huge exhibition about Titanic.  Don't get me wrong, it's also an exhibit about Belfast.  It spends quite bit of time (there's even a ride) on the Belfast shipyards and the actual accomplishment involved in building the damn thing.  (As our tour guide later put it, "It worked when it left.")  The exhibition even ends with stuff about how Belfast is a great city poised to take its place on the world stage.  There is, to put it politely, a not-entirely-subtle amount of Belfast propaganda going on here.  Well, good for them.

I didn't really like the exhibition.  Well, no -- I didn't really like most of it.  It had two bits I quite liked -- you could see the film taken of the Titanic wreckage and the debris field (that was cool), and they had a section of the exhibition setting out the pre- and post- iceberg telegraph messages, which were both pitiful and chilling.  But, mostly, I didn't like the exhibition because the folks involved had made a conscious decision to not include any actual Titanic artifacts.  It was all films and models and recreations -- and while some of these were obviously expensive and quite detailed, I'm the sort of person that prefers to see the actual real stuff.  They had some real stuff from the shipyards (like pay ledgers) and that was cooler to me than any multi-camera "tour of Titanic" which was all movie magic.

Outside the exhibition, on the streets of Belfast, they have a memorial to the workers who were killed in the construction of Titanic.  You can see the cranes of the shipyard in the distance behind them.  This seemed right and appropriate -- and way better than the whole exhibition itself.

No comments: