Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Union Station: Titanic Exhibit

We are members of Union Station in Kansas City.  They have a Science City and Planetarium for kids and rotating events.  Right now they are halfway through the 100th Anniversary Titanic Artifact Exhibit, which costs extra even for members.  I'd been meaning to go since Patrick is a big fan of the story but was waiting for the right moment since it was $10 a person ($20 for non-members, seniors, military and ages 3-12 are $16).  On Monday I got an email tip that for members, admission was slashed to $5 a pop, and since two kids are staying at Gramma's, it cut our costs considerably.

When you go through the entrance, they give you a ticket with the name of a real passenger and invite you to pay special attention to how you would have traveled (1st, 2nd, or 3rd class) and look for articles that may have belonged to you, and whether you survived.  Then they take a green-screen photo of your group which you can purchase at the end.  Personal photography is not allowed in the exhibit.

The first couple rooms are dedicated to the design and building of the Titanic and her sister ship, the Olympic, and also to the competition between ocean liner companies of the day.  You can view blueprints and photos of the work phases.  Right out front is the ship's bell that sounded the alarm when the fatal iceberg was sighted.

After that you wind your way through displays showing passenger accommodations and several of their biographies.  One room focuses on the engineering plant and the conditions of the workers.  In all, there were nearly 1000 souls on the Titanic's crew.

The boys' favorite room was made to look like a dark, starry night, which was devoted to the sinking itself.  Against one wall stood a huge block of ice that visitors were invited to touch.  You can guess my hands-on 6-year-old was all over that.  Following that is a room describing the rescue of the survivors and listing the names of all known passengers and whether they lived or died.  (Sam and Nicholas died, Patrick and I lived)  The last section talks about the discovery of the wreck and the expeditions to recover wreckage and do forensic analysis.  Here you can actually touch a piece of the hull.

The gift shop offers souvenirs ranging from t-shirts to books to pieces of coal recovered from the wreck (in keychains, jewelry, or boxes.  We got a book of 882 1/2 facts.  The twins have been devouring it since, and I've lost an hour or two in it as well.

The exhibit runs through the summer until September 3rd .  I would recommend not bothering to bring most kids under 8, since it is pretty pricey.  Don't forget that you may not get your money's worth if you are chasing or appeasing a restless young one.  If you go at a time that Science City is open, you can split watching kids and enjoy it at your leisure.

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