Wednesday, May 18, 2011
As we entered, we were each given a document which was in the name of one of the actual passengers, and a brief synopsis of their situation. I was cast as Miss Edith Corse Evans of New York, age 36, and the reason for my travel was to return home after visiting cousins in Paris. I boarded the ship in Cherbourg on the 10th of April, 1912. Shortly before this, a fortune teller had warned Edith to beware of water. We were told as we went "on board" that our fates would be revealed to us at the end of the visit.
There were so many artifacts to see and learn about--it was incredible that they were preserved in such wonderful condition, considering that they had been submerged for seventy-five or more years. Following the recording of the items many of them have been made available to be in the exhibits. Of course they were encased in glass and a few of them showed signs of breakage, but a surprising number of them seemed to be complete and none the worse for wear and tear over time. I love looking at such documents authentiques which are actual proof that an event took place.
There were also recreations of several parts of the ships quarters, in addition to posters, and hand-held sound devices which all made the exhibition appeal to so many senses. Of course the artifacts were untouchable, and highly sensitized; should anyone dare touch anything anything we were warned that an alarm would sound. The one thing which was tangible was a huge formation of ice which was at the actual temperature of the icebergs. I tried to put my hand on it for as long as possible, and it was less than a minute when I had to succumb.
Nearing the end of the walk-through, we were introduced to a re-enactment of how the survivors got onto the life rafts. There was a little problem-solving situation and an explanation of why so many lifeboats were not filled to capacity. It was so tragic, but the play-acting helped bring home the feelings of how some folks just could not bear to be separated from loved ones. However, it was difficult to comprehend why some of the unfilled lifeboats abandoned the ship being less than half full.
At the conclusion of the exhibit was a list of passengers and their fates. All of my travel companions made it to safety...sadly Miss Edith Evans did not.