The Titanic has been sitting at the bottom of the ocean since 1912, more than two miles deep — all but inaccessible.
We may never see it for ourselves, but we see some important pieces of it.
More than 100 artifacts salvaged from the legendary ocean liner will be on display as part of “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition,” opening Saturday at the Portland Science Center on Commercial Street. There’s no firm closing date, but organizers say it will be in Portland into the fall.
Visitors can see all manner of items brought on board and later salvaged, including perfume vials, a leather bag, a bowler hat and paper money. The traveling exhibit also includes china, silverware and a porthole from the ship.
The artifacts were recovered from the “debris field” surrounding the Titanic over the last 30 years or so, said Mark Lach, creative director for Premier Exhibitions, the company presenting the exhibit.
The wreck wasn’t discovered until 1985, and recovery of artifacts from the debris field began two years later. But Lach, who has been to the wreck in a mini submarine, wants people to know that nothing in the exhibit was taken from what’s left of the ship itself.
“It’s really an incredible thing to see,” said Lach.
The Titanic was sailing from England to the United States in April 1912, when it hit an iceberg and sank. The ship, with 840 state rooms, was carrying 2,220 people. More than 1,500 people on board died, including passengers and crew. The ship’s tragic journey has become legend, and it has spawned books, songs and movies.
The exhibit is designed to be a journey for visitors, sort of like the journey Titanic passengers would have begun when boarding. Visitors to the exhibition are given a replica boarding pass, with the name of an actual passenger. The exhibit includes photos and information about the building of the massive ship, its collision with the iceberg, and the work to recover artifacts.
Along the way are also reproductions of cabins on board, including first class and third class. While most of the furnishings are reproduction, the cabin displays often include some actual artifacts.
At the end of the exhibit, there is a memorial wall with the names passengers and survivors. People can scan the wall to see what became of the person named on their boarding pass.
“People get attached to their person as they walk through, so finding the name can be very emotional,” Lach said.
WHEN: Opens Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
WHERE: Portland Science Center, 68 Commercial St., Portland.
HOW MUCH: $15.50 to $19.50; free for children under 3.