As the world prepares to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking on April 15, Philadelphia museums and attractions are doing their part to honor the storied ship all year long. Visitors can explore the overall story with a tour of Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, returning to The Franklin Institute this fall by popular demand, or they can delve into the Philadelphia story specifically thanks to special displays on view at The Rosenbach Museum & Library and the Independence Seaport Museum. Visitors can even view some of the Titanic survivors’ graves at Laurel Hill Cemetery. Here’s a look at how Philadelphia is marking this historic occasion:
* Titanic: The Rise of Rosenbach, on view at The Rosenbach Museum & Library, tells a personal story of loss and professional success spurred by the Titanic’s epic failure. The exhibition follows the story of book dealer Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach as he hears about the sinking of the Titanic and realizes that his friend and protege, young Philadelphia bibliophile Harry Elkins Widener, has gone down with the ship. Visitors learn the details of the tragic event and how Dr. Rosenbach’s personal loss led to professional success as he undertook a project to honor his fallen friend through the creation of Harvard’s Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library. Items in the exhibit include a telegram alerting a friend to Widener’s death, a Joseph Conrad manuscript that went down with the ship and thoughts from poet Marianne Moore about the tragedy. Through June 24, 2012.
* Titanic Philadelphians spotlights the personal lives of the city residents directly impacted by the ship disaster. The intimate exhibit, on display at the Independence Seaport Museum, is told through the accounts of 40-plus Philadelphians who sailed on the Titanic during her maiden voyage. Visitors see one of the rare existing copies of the Titanic first-class passenger list, unwittingly carried in her coat pocket onto Lifeboat 4 by local survivor Marian Longstreth Thayer. Every Saturday through Memorial Day, museum-goers can take a Titanic-themed tour of the Olympia, outfitted with triple expansion steam engines similar to the engines on the Titanic, one of the finest remaining examples of the technology of the day. April 13-December 31, 2012.
* Making its second appearance at The Franklin Institute, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition unveils a startling collection of 212 artifacts—china, candlesticks, tie pins, silver dollars and more—recovered from the wreck site that tell stories of drama and tragedy, humanity and heroism. The display documents the ship’s construction and launch, life onboard the doomed vessel, the tale of the sinking and dramatic rescue of some 700 people, the discovery of the buried ship 73 years after it was lost and the conservation efforts made over the past 15 years. November 10, 2012-April 7, 2013.
* As much a historic repository and cultural site as a lush, tree-filled garden graveyard, Laurel Hill Cemetery’s 78 acres have welcomed the famous and infamous of Philadelphia to eternal rest since 1836. Notable for its towering sculptures and graves adorned with Tiffany-designed stained-glass windows, Laurel Hill is also the final resting place for six victims of the Titanic disaster, including book seller Harry Elkins Widener and attorney and horse breeder William Crothers Dulles. A map of notable graves is available at the main office, and it also guides visitors to see monuments to famed Civil War generals, industrialists and others.
The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases business and promotes the region’s vitality.