Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition is a journey through time

The Grand Staircase in Titanic The Artefact Exhibition at Melbourne Museum. Photo by Tim Carrafa. Source - Museums Victor (8)

Over 100 years since the sinking of the ‘Ship of Dreams,’ the Titanic still manages to capture imaginations all over the world.


The human stories behind the majestic ship that met a tragic fate is the focus of Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition at Melbourne Museum, which showcases authentic artefacts from the wreck site, as well as meticulously recreated interiors of the ship.

Opening image: The Grand Staircase in Titanic The Artefact Exhibition at Melbourne Museum. Photo by Tim Carrafa.


9-Carat Gold Swiss Wrist Watch with White Porcelain Dial. Photo by Tim Carrafa.


Helen Privett, Manager of Touring Exhibitions at Museums Victoria, shares some of the magic that awaits visitors. “We have over 200 authentic artefacts in the exhibition, and over 170 of those objects haven’t been seen in Australia before,” she says.

The artefacts on display range from personal items such as rings and jewellery worn by passengers, to technical equipment like the forward mast headlight, and even a touchable piece of the hull – a rare and thrilling opportunity for visitors to connect with the Titanic on a tactile level.

These items were salvaged from the Ship’s wreck site – 3.8 kilometres below the ocean’s surface by RMS Titanic, Inc – the only organisation authorised to do so. The fact that these objects have stood the test of time is remarkable, as it includes delicate objects like ceramic dishes and even items made from paper, such as receipts and playing cards.

“There’s objects such as champagne bottles that still have champagne in them, and perfume bottles that retain the residual smell of the perfume,” Helen says.


First Class Cabin in Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition at Melbourne Museum. Photo by Tim Carrafa.


The human connection

It’s the human stories behind these artefacts that breathes life into the history, allowing visitors to connect with individuals who lived through the tragedy.

One particular standout is the tale of Evelyn Marsden, an Australian stewardess and nurse who played a heroic role that fateful night. Born in South Australia, Marsden grew up learning to row on the Murray River – a skill that would prove invaluable. Helen says, “When she was put into a lifeboat, she ended up steering it to safety through the night, making her way through the ice field. She’s responsible for rescuing a number of people from the Titanic.”

Marsden’s story exemplifies the genuine human connection woven into the fabric of the Titanic tragedy.

“Every time we talk about some of these stories, I feel the hairs rise up on the back of my neck,” Helen says.


Iceberg Wall in Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition at Melbourne Museum. Photo by Tim Carrafa.


Immerse yourself

Visitors will be able to navigate through the immersive full-scale recreations of the Titanic’s interiors – from the opulence of the grand staircase (made famous by James Cameron’s 1997 film) – to the simplicity of the third-class passenger corridor.

“It’s a really nice way of giving people a true impression of what it would have been like on board,” says Helen. “It’s familiar because we’ve seen photographs, or we’ve seen it reproduced in movies and popular culture, but to actually stand in one of those spaces is really special.”

There is even an ‘iceberg’ which replicates the below-freezing temperature of the ocean that fateful night. The dimly lit gallery space here is quiet and atmospheric, eerily mimicking the solemn moments when survivors abandoned the sinking ship.

The exhibition has resonated deeply with visitors and attracted a diverse audience, including those who discovered the Titanic story through the recent 25th-anniversary release of the iconic movie.

“It’s due to the engaging nature of the exhibition, the fact that it is such an amazing story of tragedy and heroism and sacrifice and resilience,” says Helen. “We’ve had so many people visit, and we’re looking forward to having so many more.”


Titanic High Tea
High Tea at the Melbourne Museum. Photo by Tim Carrafa.

Extra experiences

To complement the exhibition, Melbourne Museum offers additional programming and events. One notable experience is the Titanic High Tea – inspired by the first-class menu on board, and created by a Michelin-trained chef. The menu transports guests back in time, offering a taste of the luxurious dining experiences offered on board the ill-fated ship.

For those seeking a unique nighttime adventure, late-night events are scheduled on select dates as part of the Nocturnal program. These evenings provide an exclusive opportunity to explore the exhibition after regular museum hours.

As the exhibition continues to draw crowds, it’s important to book your timed-entry tickets in advance, so as not to miss out on this incredible experience.

Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition is on at Melbourne Museum until 21 April 2024. Book your tickets here.

If you’re looking for even more spectacular events and festivals in Melbourne for 2024, check out our gig guide.


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