Titanic: The Exhibition
At a Glance
What is it?
Artifacts, recreations, and history lessons on the Titanic.
Where is it?
At Luxor on the South Strip. It’s located on the second floor attractions level.
Is it worth the cost?
Maybe – it depends on how interested you are in the subject.
What else do I need to know?
If you already know about the Titanic, this probably won’t give you any new information.
What’s the bottom line?
Leo and Kate free.
The public’s fascination with one of the worst maritime tragedies in history is almost as fascinating as the event itself. Countless books have been written on the subject, endless documentaries shown on the History Channel, and apparently they even made a little movie about it. What is it about this ship and its sinking 100 years ago that still resonates with people today?
“Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” capitalizes on that seeming never ending fascination by presenting a host of information, documentation, recreations, and artifacts from the wreckage site. These combine to paint a picture of the life and death of the ship and its passengers in a way that may not shed any new light on the tragedy but certainly educates and immerses in a way that Leo and Kate’s cinematic endeavor never could have.
For several years, the exhibition was held at the Tropicana but has now moved to a more permanent home at Luxor. For the most part the experience of visiting is the same, although a number of new items have been added as recently as 2019 and you can now take pictures inside the attraction.
The artifacts are a motley mix; everything from china and partial furnishings that belonged to the ship down to the personal effects of those who traveled on her. Each comes with an explanation of the artifact and often with special context to deepen its impact. For instance, the skeletal remains of a transom would be just a hunk of curved metal but then you look up and see an almost life-size photograph of the veranda café doors where the transom once lived and suddenly it has life. Pieces of tile, from intricately detailed down to relatively pedestrian are grouped according to the economic status of the portion of the ship they came from.
But the most interesting portions of the exhibit, in my opinion, are the recreations of portions of the ship. There is a first class cabin, opulent and luxurious even by today’s standards, while nearby a third class cabin, with multiple bunks and exposed ductwork shows the class warfare that resulted, in part, in a higher percentage of poor people losing their lives in the sinking of the ship. The grand staircase is rebuilt here as is an exterior walkway, done with a dark backdrop, sound effects, and chilly air to try to evoke what one must have felt strolling the decks in the minutes before the ship hit the iceberg.
Speaking of which, there’s even an iceberg; or, at least, a giant chunk of ice that passes for one. They make a big deal about allowing you to touch it, which results in an ongoing trail of “wow, that’s cold” exclamations from the visitors, as if that’s surprising for some reason.
One piece worth noting is a giant chunk of the ship’s hull complete with a diagram and photos showing exactly how it fit on the ship. It looms large in a dimly lit space and for some reason it, more than any other artifact in the exhibition, gives scope to what happened back in 1912.
I don’t claim to understand why this particular tragedy still captures our collective imagination and I do believe, on some level, that things like this exhibition may be exploiting the tragedy for someone’s financial gain. One hundred years from now, will there be a traveling exhibition of artifacts from 9/11 on display in a Las Vegas casino convention hall? Perhaps.
Having said that, it’s impossible to deny that this exhibition is tastefully presented and respectful to the people who lost their lives. In fact, it is humanity that is at the forefront here, telling personal stories told by belongings and surroundings that strive to honor despite the $32 ticket price.