Jeff and I love museums! So much so that during our week in Branson we toured more museums than we saw shows!

One of the museums was right down the road from our resort and was probably the most impressive one of all – The Titanic Museum.

Before we went into the museum, I knew the following about the Titanic.

1) It sank.

2) There was a movie (Titanic, obviously) that came out when I was in 9th grade. One of my friends saw it EIGHT times in the theater and I swore I would never watch it if only to keep myself from becoming like that.

2.5) To this day, I still haven’t watched the whole movie.

3) I have watched one bit of the film. Gaelic Storm plays in a scene. They’re an incredible Celtic band that I’ve gotten the chance to see live. Here’s the best clip I can find on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6R4uEBjVdE

Isn’t that great? So this was pretty much the extent of my knowledge of the Titanic.

Heading into the museum, I wasn’t sure what to expect!

Even before we got into the Museum, it was cool…

The museum is shaped like the Titanic and an iceberg!

Unfortunately, we were expressly told that we could not take any photographs in the museum.  That was sad (although I could see the reason – preserving the artifacts) – so any further photos are ones that are on the Titanic Museum’s website.

We entered the museum (baby on my hip) and were each given a boarding pass featuring an actual passenger on the Titanic and a audio device that resembled a phone. Throughout the museum, there were identification markers that gave us a code to input into our handheld player. By holding it up to our ear, it was like getting a personal tour of the museum at our own pace.

There were also docents throughout the museum that provided some very in-depth answers to questions! Entering the museum just ahead of us was a tour group of college aged men and they had quite the range of questions. I was impressed by the knowledge that the staff had about the museum.

Oh yes, the museum. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the actual collection and I was completely blown away by it! Actual items from the Titanic were on display. Letters and cards that had been mailed, photographs of the ship and the passengers and even a deck chair fished from the icy seas.

Many of the displays remarked “This is one of only two menus/pins/letters/etc to survive.” Every gallery was well organized and everything flowed well together. It wasn’t just a tourist attraction in a tourist-based town, every item was well preserved and displayed very carefully.

Half-way through our tour, we got to walk up a replica of the Grand Staircase:

 

Jeff enjoyed the portion of the exhibit where he could pretend to shovel coal with a weighted shovel. He also was impressed by all the historical details provided in all of the displays.

At the end of the tour, we got to watch a video of the submarines and remote vehicles that found the Titanic wreck. We also passed a memorial wall where we could find if our boarding pass passenger lived or died.  April of 2012 marks 100 years

Here’s our pros and cons from the visit:

Pros:

  • Handheld audio players let us wander around at our own pace and listen to the parts we were interested in.
  • Lots of details were provided in the artifact displays.
  • A few hands-on exhibits such as shoveling coal, platforms representing various slopes on the ship as it was sinking, and seeing how long you could hold your hand in ice water that represented what the survivors suffered through.
  • There are actually two mascot dogs representing the doggie passengers on the ship! They live at the museum and have full time staff who take care of them. We got to meet Molly on our way out of the museum. She was adorable!

Cons:

  • We weren’t able to take photographs during the tour. There were a couple of staged areas like the bridge and a simulated outside view that would have been really neat.
  • At the end of our tour, our photo was taken by a staff member who advised us that we could purchase it in the gift shop. We were unsuccessful in locating this and the staff member on duty was busy chatting with a friend (possibly an off-duty staffer).
  • The museum is really geared for teenagers and adults. That’s not a bad thing, but parents with small children may want to bring something to keep them entertained. It’d be great to have an audio tour geared towards children.
  • Jeff stated it would have been really cool to be out on the roof of the building (if it were outfitted like a ship). He also wanted to see a life-sized engine.
  • There were a few knowledge-check quizzes, but I would have liked to see more educational or interactive exhibits.

Really, it’s hard to call those cons! Suggestions, maybe.

Taking Miss P, who was just a year old, through the museum was a bit of a challenge. She loved the dog and some of the exhibits, but she just did not have the patience for most of it. Jeff and I took turns entertaining her.

I would totally go back again! We really enjoyed the whole experience and I’m sure on a second trip I would learn even more.

Over the next week or two, I’ll be writing about our other experiences on our trip! Once those are up, click the “Branson” tag on this post!

(Full disclosure here: The museum graciously hosted us for the day in exchange for our feedback on our visit. All our opinions are always our own.)

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