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Natural sciences museum opens new Titanic exhibit

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition features more than 200 artifacts and a chance to explore pictures of the wreck site.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

When I heard about the new Titanic exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, my first thought was, "wait, wasn't it here before?"

Well, it was. Or, at least way back in 2003 and 2004, the museum did bring a Titanic exhibit to Raleigh. It is among the museum's most popular special exhibits.

The latest version has the same name - "Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition." And it tells the same story of the ship's fateful voyage. Like last time, visitors will get the "boarding pass" of an actual Titanic passenger and find out the person's fate at the exhibit's memorial room. And if you, like me, went to that exhibit years ago, you might recognize a few pieces including the large "iceberg" that visitors can touch to get a sense of just how cold the water was.

But beyond the familiar storyline and a handful of pieces, the latest version, which opens on Saturday and runs through April 28, is quite different.

The exhibit features more than 200 artifacts, many of which were not part of the exhibit nine years ago, including clothing, calling cards and other personal items. What's more, the exhibit now includes an interactive piece that allows visitors to explore pictures of the wreck site, 2.5 miles below the surface of the ocean, that were taken during an expedition in 2010.

The exhibit follows the Titanic's story from construction to life on board to the sinking. You'll find a lot of information about artifact recovery efforts, led by RMS Titanic Inc., which also is the group behind this exhibit and others that travel around the country. There's a re-created boiler room, first- and third-class cabins, the captain's bridge and the actual bell that crewman Frederick Fleet rang when he shouted "Iceberg, right ahead!"

This exhibit is perfect for grade schoolers and way up. I look forward to taking my seven-year-old.

Kids will enjoy touching the iceberg, exploring the wreck site on their own and following the story of the famous ship. Other pieces to look out for: An outline of the actual size of one of the lifeboats projected on the floor and vials of perfume that still have some scent in the memorial gallery at the end.

"Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition" runs through April 28 at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. Tickets are $14 for adults; $11 for seniors (65 and up), students and military; and $9 for children (3-12).

On Thursdays, starting next Thursday, the museum will stay open until 9 p.m. and tickets for adults to the Titanic exhibit will be $11.

Click here for details and watch my interview with Theresa Nelson of RMS Titanic for more information.

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