Titanic Belfast Opens for Ship’s Centenary

Visitors gather outside of the newly opened Titanic Belfast. Photo from Google Images.

By Catherine Davis, Editorial Assistant

Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic-themed attraction, opened its doors to the public on Saturday, March 31. The giant complex is both owned and managed by the Titanic Foundation, a charitable trust. The foundation worked in partnership with the Belfast City Council to design an exhibition and space that would acknowledge Belfast’s prominent standing in history as a shipbuilding center, and which would commemorate the port city’s most famous industrial product: the ill-fated Titanic. Harland and Wolff — the famous shipyard where the vessel was built, and whose ship-builders deemed the passenger liner, “practically unsinkable” — continue to be located in Belfast, as they have been for over 150 years.

The tourist attraction’s opening coincides with the 100 year anniversary of the Titanic’s maiden voyage, which began on April 10, 1912, out of southern English port, Southampton.

The Titanic Quarter’s new £97m exhibition center – a series of nine galleries – measures 118,403 in square feet. According to the Titanic  Belfast website, “the external façade [designed to have a crystalline or shard like appearance] is clad in several thousand three-dimensional aluminum plates, creating an awe-inspiring visual appearance, which is further enhanced by reflective pools of water surrounding the base of
the structure.”

A board member of Belfast’s Titanic Society, Susie Millar (great-granddaughter of Titanic deck engineer, Thomas Millar) told the Los Angeles Times, “[the exhibit] shows early 1900’s Belfast and what was happening here at the time with all the sights and sounds of the shipyards and what it was like to work in them.” In an interview with The Guardian, Millar made the point, “when [the Titanic] sank, it was a huge shock for the city. For years and years it wasn’t discussed. But now, coming   up to the 100th anniversary, we’ve rediscovered that pride in the ship and we’re sharing those stories again.”

Following the opening, tickets have been selling out approximately one week in advance. Visitors can look forward to walking through the original shipyard gates, and to seeing replicas of first, second, and  third-class cabins.

The latest internet trend — collecting and publishing embarrassing Tweets about specific topics — has revealed that a small segment of the
Twitterverse supposedly had no idea that James Cameron’s blockbuster, Titanic, was based on an actual event. It would seem, then, that Titanic Belfast has opened just in time to serve as a powerful reminder of the history of the famous ship.

The complex represents a boon for Belfast, with major spikes in tourism and international attention. Following the centenary, it will continue to be a tourist attraction, and will also serve as a prime space for events and conferences.

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