14 April, 1912 – 11:40 ship’s time. This is probably one of most memorable dates and times in modern history. It was the start of the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic’s tragic demise in the freezing seas south of Newfoundland.
Her all too brief life has become a heart-rending legend and inspiration for a plethora of films, books, exhibits and memorials. One of the best and largest testimonials to her and her ill-fated passengers is The Titanic Experience in Belfast, which opened in March 2012.
Fittingly this interactive and visual tribute to the Titanic stands 100 metres from where her hull was fabricated in Belfast Harbour and is not even ten minutes from the Belfast City Centre. The Titanic Experience is as tall as the Titanic and the futuristic silver building is comprised of four hull-shaped wings.
The memorial (or exhibition if you like) is arranged into 9 fascinating and interactive galleries that take the visitor sequentially from the Titanic’s conception/design to birth, premature end to high-definition images of her remains. The use of interactive displays, special effects, photographs, a large number of objects and relics makes the Titanic story come to life.
This gallery tells of Belfast’s premier position as an engineering, ship building and manufacturing hub. This expertise was crucial in acquiring the contract of building the world’s most luxurious and largest ocean liner, the Titanic.
The Shipyard Ride
The highlight of the whole exhibition, this gallery is an electronic ride that will take you through the whole process of constructing the Titanic. It uses animations, special effects and reconstructions. A part of this gallery also has a life-size plan of the Promenade Deck and you get an inkling of the tremendous size of the Titanic.
The Launch of Titanic
You get to share the sight of nearly 100,000 people who watched the launching of the Titanic over a century ago. A high-tech glass window provides a superimposed image of the Titanic onto the slipway below the centre, giving you a fabulous vision of how it must have looked on the day of its maiden voyage.
The Fit Out
The Fit Out segment houses a large range of exhibits, artefacts and virtual imagery of the Titanic’s interior. This includes replicas of the first, second and third class portions of the ship. The authenticity and immense detail of the illustrations is simply amazing and lets you into what life was like on board, as both a passenger or crew member.
This gallery rouses mixed feelings, because knowing that the pomp and splendour that accompanied the Titanic’s launch would just be a prelude to tragedy. This section contains recovered passengers’ photographs and those by Francis Browne. These photos give a glimpse of individual passengers and the conditions aboard the ship.
Here you will share the experience of the passengers during the two and a half hours from the time the iceberg struck till the Titanic’s submergence. With the final hours of the Titanic captured by mood atmospherics, sound, lighting and images you will feel the chill of the icy North Atlantic waters. This is an extremely poignant section.
The Titanic Belfast Experience is unique as far as world-wide Titanic exhibitions go. It is the sole exhibitor of the findings and details of the many inquiries and investigations carried out in the aftermath of the Titanic’s sinking. These are presented, to visitors, in the form of re-enactments, recordings and artefacts. It also includes a 30-foot long diagram/plan produced to assist the British Wreck Inquiry. It is known as the Holy Grail of Titanic Artefacts/ Memorabilia.
Myths & Legends
The story of the Titanic has made her one of the most famous ships in history. She features in movies, books and songs. She has spawned legends and myths and is embedded in modern and popular culture. Her name is now synonymous with ‘disaster’ and ‘catastrophe.’ This interactive section debunks falsehoods while detailing the truths about this vessel.
Visit & Explore
The last gallery focuses on the dramatic findings of American oceanographer Dr. Robert Ballard and French diving engineer Jean-Louis Michel. They and their team discovered the Titanic’s final resting place more than two miles underwater. You can explore the wreckage through their high-definition footage and interactive learning pods detailing the discovery.