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History buffs and the morbidly curious will be buoyed by Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit


The organizers of Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit, bubbling to the surface at the St. Louis Science Center this weekend, have done something extra creepy for the visitors. Everyone who comes through the Exploradome door is presented with a simulated Titanic boarding pass, complete with the name of an actual Titanic passenger. On the way out, visitors may compare their tickets with a wall chart to see whether they would have been among the lucky one-third of the passengers who managed to get picked up by the rescuing liner Carpathia before becoming Popsicles.

In between, oglers can check out about 200 artifacts recovered from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, including luggage, jewelry, money, toys, china, a door and the glass from a porthole. They will also enjoy full-scale re-creations of the luxury ship's grand staircase and a first-class passenger cabin, as well as a simulation of Titanic's enormous boiler room, which accommodated 29 boilers. Visitors will also be encouraged to touch a faux iceberg kept at 30 degrees and to imagine being immersed in water of that temperature until dying of exposure.

Sound morbid? It is. The timeline of the final hours of Titanic's 1912 voyage is morbidly fascinating, from the warnings radioed by nearby ships and the hopeless attempt to turn out of the way to the collision with the iceberg, the slow rise of water up into the ship, the casual-then-frantic filling of a paucity of lifeboats, the three-hour sinking process, the ship's splitting in two and the people in lifeboats' refusal to go back and pick up anyone else from the ocean, despite their screams, for fear the lifeboats would be overloaded -- so much luxury and so much death.

And you can buy souvenir mugs in the gift shop!

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