ne day in December, Paul Hoffman, the president and CEO of Liberty Science Center, was taking a stroll through Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, a show that has been breaking attendance records since opening this past fall at the Jersey City museum. A little girl, maybe six or seven years old, approached him. “Her parents were busy reading some of the information on the walls. She turned to me, suddenly, and said, ‘How many icebergs are there? How big do you have to be to be an iceberg?’ I happened to have my I-Pad with me, so
we looked up her questions on line,” Hoffman said. “Then, she asked me how ships are designed today and how they stay away from icebergs. She had lots of great questions.” That kind of intellectual engagement is the goal of Titanic. “This kind of exhibit is an example of the whole purpose of what we are doing,” Hoffman said. “It fires the imagination, and that leads people—children and adults—down all sorts of paths. It opens up people’s eyes and allows them to realize that science isn’t necessarily so formidable, that it undermines things in our lives.” Science plays a major role in Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, which runs through the end of May. The show is the
latest version of one that has appeared in various forms throughout the world over the past 15 years. In Chicago, Paris, London, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, some 22 million people have learned about the disaster and examined artifacts brought up from the site of the notorious wreck. The White Star liner, the most expensive and luxurious of its time, sank on its maiden voyage after being sliced open by an iceberg in the frigid North Atlantic on April 15, 1912. More than 1,500 people perished in the disaster. Split in two and lying more than 12,000 feet below the surface, the wreck was discovered on an expedition led by Robert Ballard in 1985.
Boy with Titanic boarding pass.
FEBRUARY 2016 PRINCETON MAGAZINE
1/15/16 11:16:18 AM
Witherspoon Media Group