On January 2nd, my nephew and his family were back in town visiting, and we went with them and my sister and bro-in-law down to Branson to the Titanic Museum. No photos were allowed inside, but here’s a shot of the outside of the museum. Now, I know in these parts that Branson can be a bit of a joke, perpetuating the hillbilly stereotypes of living in the Ozarks, but I have to say, this museum was outstanding.
As you’re standing in line to get your tickets, you’re given a “passport” of an actual passenger that tells the back story of their personal lives. One of the Titanic historical societies did all the research to provide this information for the museum. As you walk through, you look for the name of your passenger on relics and mementos that were salvaged from the wreckage, and at the very end, you find your passenger’s name on a wall to learn his or her fate.
There’s definitely something for everyone, from the science explaining how the “unsinkable” ship met its doom, to costumes and other items from the movie set, to a tub of water where you can immerse your arm at the actual temperature of the Atlantic waters that night. (I kept my hand in the tub for 45 seconds, outlasting everyone else in our group. It’s no wonder so many died of hypothermia.)
One of the exhibits that really touched me was a trunk recovered from the bottom of the ocean, with a blouse, a hair comb, and a small purse. They identified the items as belonging to a second-class passenger, and determined that she’d probably sold everything to obtain her ticket on the “ship of dreams” to bring her to America. The commentary said that she’d be surprised to learn that her meager belongings were now valued at over $35,000.
Another exhibit showed letters exchanged back and forth between a widow and the White Star Line, with the widow finally giving up on having her husband’s body recovered and sent back home for burial. She couldn’t afford it, and with all the other claims, White Star couldn’t either.
The last thing that was particularly striking to me was a letter or telegram (I can’t remember now), possibly from Bruce Ismay to White Star trying to silence the news about the sinking, stating something to the effect that no one would want to remember what happened.
If you’re wanting to go, shop around for discount tickets; although it was a great experience, it was much better knowing we’d only paid half price.