Titanic Belfast is the name of the signature building located in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast, Northern Ireland, the birthplace of the majestic ship.
The architectural design was influenced by several maritime themes, including ice crystals, ships’ hulls and the insignia of the White Star Line. It looks like the front of Titanic’s hull at all four corners. Standing in front of the building facing the docks, I didn’t know what the metal posts were running down the sides like an aisle. I found out later from a tour guide that those posts act as an outline of the Titanic’s hull.
Construction began in May 2009 and the building opened on 31 March 2012, the centennial year of Titanic’s launch. The building, paying tribute to Titanic which was built by Harland and Wolff, has nine galleries of interactive exhibition space, including a dark ride, underwater exploration theatre, and recreations of the ship’s decks and cabins.
The first gallery focuses on Belfast city and the type of industries that were flourishing at the time. It’s easy to spend over an hour reading about Belfast and its history.
The second gallery has a ride that takes you in a car, built for four, through the shipyard. You get to see the hot metal and other dangerous materials the workers had to handle on a daily basis. I was surprised to see a to-scale model of the Titanic’s rutter. It was much bigger than I would have imagined. Titanic was huge!
Galleries three through six shows visitors what the launch would have looked like from the shipways, what the cabins for first and third class looked like, and a simulated video taking a tour of the ship from bottom to the upper deck. These galleries reminded me of the Titanic movie (1997).
When you get to galleries seven and eight, after reading about it’s sinking, the aftermath seems to be less reported. There wasn’t as much material to read and I would have thought that there would be lots of coverage. Of course the building of Titanic, its voyage and sinking are the most intriguing parts of the story, but I felt like the “story” didn’t have all the loose ends tied up at the end of the museum.
There was a special theatre at the very end, which had viewers taken below the ocean to see the robots explore the sunken Titanic. This left me wanting more as well. It could be that I have a true interest in Titanic and the history and also perhaps the goal of the museum is to show you the history and to get you to want to buy the books from the gift shop afterwards.
I would visit the museum again and make sure that next time I had more room in my suitcase for souvenirs.
If you want to see more on the period of when Titanic was built, I recommend tuning into “Titanic: Blood and Steel” weeknights at 7:00pm. The show is focuses on the building of the Titanic, workers’ rights, women’s rights and religious tensions. Although, I can tell it was filmed in Dublin and not Belfast, which is kind of a shame, but it still gives you a feel for what happened during period. I’m always wondering what’s going to happen to Dr. Muir (Metallurgist working on the Titanic) next.