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Big Titanic exhibit opening in Northern Ireland

May 31, 2011|By James Bartlett | Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • William Blair, head of human history at National Museums Northern Ireland, with items from the new Titanic exhibit at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum.
William Blair, head of human history at National Museums Northern Ireland,… (National Museums Northern…)

Her one and only voyage ended in tragedy, yet the Titanic has been famous ever since. Next year is the 100th anniversary of the fatal sinking, but exhibitions about the doomed vessel have been running for years all around the world, many of them launched in the wake of the huge success of James Cameron’s 1997 movie.

The newest exhibit is a homecoming of sorts. "Titanica: The Exhibition" is opening Tuesday at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, a 174-acre site a few miles outside Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the ship was designed, crafted and riveted in the Harland & Wolff shipyard.

Hundreds of items from the Titanic’s parent company, White Star Line, as well as the museum’s own archives, are displayed at this hometown exhibition. They include uniforms, furniture, photographs, diaries, glass slides, magazines, books, crockery, diaries, passenger lists and tickets.

Nearly 40 of the artifacts were recovered from the wreck site itself. Some items, such as a 20-foot-long plan of last-minute design changes to the vessel, have never been on public display, the museum says.

Besides the exhibit, an outdoor venue on the site, the busy village of Ballycultra Town, a collection of old buildings, stores, houses, churches and a tea room from the early 20th century, is the location for a living-history experience. "Titanica: The People's Story" features figures associated with the doomed ship before, during and after the voyage.

There are other Titanic events and attractions in Belfast, but if you want to get closer to the past and smell the salty sea air, the Nomadic – the tender craft that ferried passengers onboard the Titanic – is being restored at the shipyard. Its own three-day celebration, starting Friday, will offer a rare chance to step on board.

Info: Ulster Folk & Transport Museum. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Museum tickets are about $13 adults, $7 children and $26 to $35 family.

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