Experience the Titanic — without sinking — in Portland

The Titanic (courtesy of Portland Science Center)

The Titanic at the Southampton, U.K., docks, prior to its maiden voyage in 1912. (courtesy of Portland Science Center)

The world’s most heavy-handed metaphor is coming to Portland.

(I stole that tag line from my colleague, Dan.)

The Titanic. It’s one of history’s most famous maritime disasters and a ship whose name has come to be an instantly recognizable euphemism for arrogance and failure to plan ahead.

In case there’s anyone reading this who just arrived to Earth from an alien planet, the massive RMS Titanic ocean liner was the largest ship afloat and was advertised as an unsinkable ship when it set off on its maiden voyage from Southampton, United Kingdom, to New York in 1912.

Its operators were so confident the ship was indestructible, they only kept enough life boats for a little more than half of its passengers. That would prove to be a problem, as we now know, because on its very first trip across the Atlantic, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank.

About 1,500 of the more than 2,200 passengers died in the tragic wreck.

[MORE: Boy who survived the Titanic sworn to secrecy about what he experienced]

Next month, artifacts recovered from the wreck site seven decades after the sinking will be on exhibit at the Portland Science Center, where attendees will be given replica boarding passes and a sense of what it would’ve been like to step onto the ship that fateful day.

Included in the immersive exhibition, for instance, will be fully furnished first- and third-class rooms from an era when the separation of social classes was more overtly enforced. (Remember how hard it was for Leonardo DiCaprio’s poor character to get to a place where he could mingle with Kate Winslet’s rich character in the 1997 blockbuster?)

“The exhibition uses artifacts recovered from Titanic to tell the compelling human stories of those who were traveling from Southampton, England; Cherbourg, France; and Queenstown, Ireland to the United States,” said Joe Gold, president of The Gold Group, owner and operator of the science center, in a statement. “Some were first-class passengers, making the trip solely for pleasure, some were third-class passengers hoping for a better life in America. The world changed — and certainly maritime travel changed — with the sinking of Titanic.”

“Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” is presented by Atlanta-based Premier Exhibitions and has toured major museums worldwide for a quarter century. It opens in Portland on June 18, with tickets to go on sale on May 16.

“There’s so much history in this exhibit,” Gold said. “There’s also a look at the science and engineering that went into building Titanic. In this day and age, it’s important to understand what a marvel of engineering this was for its time.”

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.