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The Titanic Museum in Branson
From the time I was a little girl, I have been fascinated to the point of almost obsession when it came to the great ship, the Titanic, and the story surrounding its untimely sinking. Finding out that Branson was home to the world’s largest Titanic Museum excited me, and learning that I would get a chance to visit for the #BloggingBranson series, well, I was tickled peach! I had visited several traveling exhibits over the years, so somewhat knew what to expect, but seeing it first hand at the Titanic Museum Branson for myself was totally above and beyond my original expectations.
The World’s Largest Titanic Museum
From the moment you arrive in Branson, you can’t miss the large and impressive museum. You can see it from so many different locations in town, it’s that big! Much like the original ship was the biggest of its kind back in 1912, this museum too is the biggest of its kind and you know just from the sheer size of it, you are in for an incredible adventure while you tour.
Upon arrival, we were welcomed just like we would have been while boarding a cruise ship then (and now). After getting inside, we were given our cards that linked us to a person that actually sailed on the Titanic. At the end of the Exhibit, you can check the rosters to see what fate your passenger had. This is a really cool way to connect with someone from over 100 years ago. You read about their life, why they were traveling on the Titanic and see what became of them. I can tell you, between our group we had many exclamations of “Oh, thank God, my person lived!” And even, “Oh, I am so sad, my person didn’t survive the sinking.” I’ll tell you at the end how my person fared.
Interactive exhibits and amazing artifacts
Right at the entrance to the museum, there is a wall there for everyone to touch. What is so great about touching a wall? Well, it is a wall of ice. The wall of ice is your first interactive part of the museum, and throughout the rest of your tour, you will find many other interactive exhibits. You’ll find plenty of buttons to push and trivia games to challenge you. There is a Captain’s Bridge to take the wheel, an “outside” deck on the ship to feel the cold night air and a coal furnace with a blast of hot air where you can practise your coal shoveling skills, plus a really neat interactive walk on the deck, which is really three different small sloping decks, so you can see how far the pitch of the deck went and you can try your best to hang on.
One of the interactive exhibits that many of us took part in was the ice water challenge. Across from the sloping decks and the lifeboat you can sit in, there is a container of water to put your hand in. Once putting your hand in, you will find that the water inside is at the temperature it would have been at on the night the Titanic sank. Many of us stuck our hand in, only a few of us could leave it in as long as the max suggested time of 3 minutes.
Along with the interactive exhibits, there are so many artifacts, stories and photographs to really bring you closer to what the Titanic was. One of the artifacts, okay, well 2, are deck chair from the 1st class deck. There are only 4 of these in existence and 2 of them are right here! Just seeing those chairs, the dishes, personal items and more made me feel connected to the Titanic in a way I hadn’t before.
Travel tip: There is no photography whatsoever in the museum, so put your cameras back in their cases and put your phones away. Artifacts like they have here on display are very fragile (they had been at the bottom of the ocean for over half a century after all) and cannot withstand repeated flash photography. [Please note the majority of photographs in this post and accompanying video are media use and were not taken by myself in respect for their policy.]
Education is key!
Our tour guide was amazing, and had a wealth of information including stories we had never heard before, but he also had a lot of respect for the crew, the passengers and of course, Captain Smith. Our tour guide was a retired schoolteacher, so he loved educating us on all things Titanic and even though I know a whole lot about it due to my own obsession, he told me things I had never heard before! I really appreciated the fact that all guides are educated and even tested on the subject matter, so what you are hearing is true and not made up theories or tales. As for the guide, you can choose to have a guide or you can do self-guided. Your tour, your way!
As a homeschooling mom, I really appreciated the educational aspect to the museum. I really love that the museum has helped us meet our standards by designing a whole lesson plan to go with the tour. There is science, math, geography, arts, social studies, and of course, lots of reading! You can do class field trips to the museum and they even offer Homeschool rates and days.
I personally loved the music room, where the stories of the famed Titanic musicians was told along with photos of each of the men who played until the end. In the middle of the room sat a Grand Piano, and a pianist played the same tune said to be playing as the ship sank. Music is such a invoker of memories and thoughts and I can say that I stood in this room for a long while, just listening. It was beautiful, solemn, yet serene. That lady standing there swaying with her eyes closed? Yeah, that was me.
A spiritual connection
One of the artifacts that really moved me was the Bible carried by Reverend Bateman. It was the only Bible found, and the verse that it fell opened to when put on display really symbolizes so much more was at play here. In a talk with our guide after seeing the Bible, he told me how he, and many of the other guides, feel a spiritual connection to the ship and passengers and how random things that happen there in the museum are definitely not by coincidence or accident. When asked if he felt some of the lost may be connecting through some of the items on display, he replied simply, “I have no doubt.”
“There were 2,208 passengers and crew members on board Titanic, mostly Christians carrying personal bibles with them, but when the ship sank, only one of hundreds of bibles were saved,” explains Mary Kellogg Joslyn, co-owner of the Titanic Museum Attractions. “It’s an amazing, spiritual story that we’re honored and proud to share with our guests when they reach the Memorial Room where this priceless bible is enshrined,” says Kellogg Joslyn.
Throughout the exhibit, I cried often. Poor Jay Wilson, General Manager and our host from The Stone Castle Hotel & Conference Center, I feel terrible for running him off! He toured with me for a bit, but then he had to break away because I was just a sobbing mess! Sorry Jay!!
The thing about it is though, all of the artifacts are tied to people. People who may have lost their life in this tragedy. Spirit has a way of imprinting a little part of itself onto tangible items, and my soul felt each and every one of them like a cold knife against my skin.
I couldn’t help but cry, it wasn’t some Hollywood version of things, and with the blockbuster smash Titanic in 1997, many times we forget that the ship was real and what happened really did happen. It wasn’t some incredible plot for a movie to push a love story along (and don’t get me wrong, I love this film and even have it playing in the background while I write this), but it was a real event that affected real people. People like us. Yes, we hear a lot about the 1st class passengers of the Titanic, but few of us will be like the Astors or Strauses. (Ida and Isidor Straus? Now there’s a love story!)
While few of us may be in the same league as the 1st class passengers, we could very well be the people in 2nd class, or even 3rd. Our family members that immigrated from European countries could have very well come over just like many of these passengers, making these stories even more personal. It is no wonder that the story of the Titanic has stayed with us for so long.
The Titanic Suite at The Stone Castle Hotel & Conference Center
Are you as enthralled by the Titanic as I am? Now when you go to Branson to visit the museum, you can even stay in a Titanic themed suite at The Stone Castle Hotel & Conference Center. This is now my favorite room at The Stone Castle, which you can read all about in my last post HERE. I love this room and all the great touches. It is so funny, things that they have used to decorate or add content to the room, are things I own myself! Another reason The Stone Castle feels like home to me! I’m really hoping to stay in the Titanic suite the next time I’m in Branson. Check it out!
You can guarantee that the next time in Branson, I will be going back to the Titanic Museum. With wonderful guides, amazing stories to hear and artifacts to see, plus the fantastic gift shop where you can even get your own Heart of the Ocean, there is so much to see and do, multiple visits are the perfect way to take it all in!
My strange obsession explained
I have read everything I could get my hands on, from the time I was old enough to read. I’ve also watched all the different movies and documentaries, including the original 1953 Titanic movie with Barbara Stanwyck and the 1958 British film, A Night to Remember, multiple times and if there was any news story that ever popped up, I knew about it. In my own tale of This is my strange and crazy life, I have an even weirder connection:
When my mother was still alive and I was a little girl, she took me to see a psychic she knew because of recurring nightmares I was having. 40+ years later and I can still remember these nightmares, the weird out-of-body experience they gave me and how I would cry out for my ‘Mum.’ After asking me some questions, the psychic told my mother that I was reliving a past life, the one where I died on the Titanic! Now I know that may sound crazy, and trust me, it is a little, but it also somewhat explains my strong affection for it. Since that time, there have been family jokes about my sailing on the maiden voyage, my untimely end and how a little (English?) boy became a Southern girl some 60 years later. Is it real? I don’t know, but it sure makes for some interesting conversation!
If you are a history buff, sailor, fan of the movie or just a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio and want to stand on the same steps he stood on when he greeted Kate Winslet’s Rose, then you MUST check out the museum when you come to Branson. (And if your travels aren’t taking you to Branson soon, but they are to Pigeon Forge, be sure to check out this museum’s sister site there.)
For tickets, information, hours of operation and more, be sure to check out The Titanic Branson Website here: http://www.titanicbranson.com/
I hope you enjoyed this voyage, and remember, keep following along as I take you all over Branson and at the end of the #BloggingBranson series, you will be able to win your own Branson trip with tickets for shows and attractions, too!
Oh, and I told you that I would let you know if my person, Mrs. Elizabeth Watt, a 40 year old 2nd class passenger bound for Oregon survived or not. She did. While there was tragedy, let us always remember there was triumph, too.