By Alexa Chipman April 26, 2017
If a historical event could be said to have celebrity status, the sinking of Titanic would be a headliner. It has prompted endless academic papers, feature films, and several musicals. The disaster took center stage in the 1980s when the wreck was discovered and excavated, prompting the wildly popular movie that defined millennial culture. I remember when you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing “My Heart Will Go On.” Although Titanic fever has passed, its significance and intrigue have not.
When thinking of the sparkling night life of Las Vegas, attending a museum exhibit is not the first thing that comes to mind. Why wander through a history lesson and stare at old dishes when you could be out drinking and enjoying flashy theatrical exhibitions?
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition is no ordinary museum display—it is an experience. Rather than static presentations lined up against walls with dull indoor lighting, it places the visitor on board the ship, beginning in steerage with lively Irish dance music and loud ship engines dominating the space, leading the visitor through what it was like to be aboard, with detailed signage and bold first person accounts on the walls that are easy to read, offering a choice between quickly walking through or taking the time to delve deeply into the historical background.
Climbing up through the exhibit, much like the ship itself, the music shifts to elegant parlor ambiance, featuring fine crystal and photos of ornate rooms that were on board. What took my breath away were the reproduction areas—walking the promenade deck listening to sloshing of ocean waves and feeling cold gusts coming in off the water, wandering through a first class bedroom suite, and climbing the magnificent staircase where Kate Winslet stood in her sweeping beaded evening gown. Lighting shifts into ominous twilight with the first ice warnings, and plunges into darkness when the iceberg strikes. It is immersive and fully sensory, such as the opportunity to touch a huge block of ice.
This is an exciting exhibit that revitalizes history—Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition is a far cry from the dusty, poorly crafted displays you’ll find at most museums. It isn’t fluff either, the artifacts are simply displayed in a way that makes them interesting and relevant, rather than languishing in dusty cases. In addition to the story before and during the collision, there is information on the expedition to excavate the ship’s remains, concluding with the Big Piece, a towering part of the ship’s hull still in tact. Escape from the vibrant bustle of the Las Vegas Strip with this magnificent tribute to Titanic at the Luxor Hotel.