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Titanic Exhibit Sails Into San Diego

Above: A recreation of a third class cabin from the Titanic, currently on view at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

2012 marks the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. KPBS arts reporter Angela Carone says a new exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum features 200 items recovered from the Titanic’s wreck site.

Plates, spoons, hairpins, perfume bottles, even books have been recovered from the Titanic wreckage site and are now on view in this traveling exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park.

Dr. Micheal Hager is the museum’s president and CEO. I asked him why the story of the Titanic still resonates with the public. He says the circumstances of this disaster were unique. "The Titanic sunk over a period of many hours and so you had the whole range of human intellect and drama play out. You had heroes, you had cowards. You had tragic stories and wonderful stories." He adds, "It's not just about the objects, it's about the people who used them."

Lowell Lytle is dressed in an authentic captain’s uniform, complete with the hat and medals. He is a Captain Smith look-a-like, and he travels with the Titanic exhibition giving the last speech Captain Smith gave before he went down with his famous ship.

In a deep baritone voice, with a slight accent, Lytle delivers a portion of the speech. "The ship handles beautifully. It is designed for performance and above all, safety. I could not conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that."

The exhibit includes recreations of first and third class cabins. There’s also an iceberg wall that visitors can touch to see how cold the waters were when the ship sank.

The exhibit "Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit" will be on view through September 9, 2012.

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