The world’s largest Titanic museum allows visitors to time travel to one of history’s most tragic events via an educational interactive experience for kids and adults alike.
We eye the replica of the famous passenger ship towering above Highway 76, which is lined with glitzy neon signs. Half the size of the original, the Titanic Museum stands at 100 feet, and its bow sits in a flowing water fountain creating an illusion of the sea. Will this be amazingly awesome or incredibly cheesy?
We’re greeted by a British woman in a servant’s costume, who offers four boarding passes, connecting us—my boyfriend, his 12-year-old and 8-year-old sons, and myself—to actual Titanic passengers. During the tour, you can search throughout the museum for artifacts or stories pertaining to your passenger. At the end, you discover whether your passenger lived or perished.
Before getting tickets, a glacier chunk begs for our touch.
“Oooh, it’s cold,” the 8-year-old says. “It’s not every day you get to do this.”
Nor is it every day that you time travel to one of history’s most tragic events in such a classy and historically accurate manner while looking at rare artifacts worth millions of dollars.
We stand in front of an 18-foot Titanic model—the most accurate ever built—studying the ship’s complexity for 10 minutes. Even the kids are mesmerized. We roam into the shipyard to see architectural plans, read personal stories about the builders and play in the boiler room where the kids hoist a heavy shovel to put coal into a fake furnace.
“Wow, I would have wanted to be a first-class passenger,” the 12-year-old says as we pass through authentic third- and second-class cabins.
Heading to the first-class accommodations, awe strikes. We ascend a full-scale replica of the Grand Staircase with a cherub light at the stairs’ base and a clock at the uppermost landing—just like in the 1997 movie Titanic. At any moment, Jack and Rose may enter.
Near the museum’s exit, director James Cameron’s 26-foot model of the rusted Titanic created for his movie sits in a large glass case. The museum is the only place the model has been publicly displayed.
The museum offers a unique interactive experience—pretend to be captain on the bridge and steer the ship, feel the crisp wind on the ship’s railing, touch 28-degree icy water, and sit in a lifeboat and read survivors’ stories. Even after two hours, no one wants to leave and the kids want to go back and re-examine some of the 400 artifacts in the museum.
At the end of the our, an Irish tour guide approached me to ask if I found any artifacts about my passenger. I said no. He looked at my boarding pass and then told me the story about Elizabeth Nye, who had suffered heartbreak early in her life but married a Salvation Army Colonel, Mr. George Darby, and together they were instrumental in the organization and support of the Salvation Army in both England and America.
I discovered so much on this tour that I left and researched more about the ship and its passengers. The Titanic photo collection of Father Francis Browne was fascinating as he captured the final images of the liner departing Queenstown headed for America. There was a haunting quality to seeing some of these last images of people before their dismal fates. The replica of the first-class dining room with mirrors surrounding it was stately along with the artifacts in that room—one of the only deck chairs known to exist; a rare surviving original dress designed by Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon of Britain, who survived but found herself in court for not helping others survive; the dinner menu of the last supper on board; and a rare Egyptian talisman that belonged to survivor, aristocrat and heiress Molly Brown.
These days, keeping anyone’s attention is a challenge, especially for museums. John Joslyn and his wife, Mary Kellogg-Joslyn, the museum’s owners and founders, succeed brilliantly. It helps that the Titanic captivated John Joslyn in the 1980s when he mounted the second expedition to the ship’s wreckage site. That dive cost $6 million, and it helped John Joslyn produce one of the highest-rated specials on television.
In the early 1990s, the Joslyns visited Branson and fell in love with it. They had already been heavily involved in a Titanic touring exhibition and knew it needed a permanent home.
“We came to visit for a day and stayed three,” John Joslyn says. “It’s a terrific little town with a keen focus on tourism. It may seem like an odd place for this, but really it’s the perfect place.”
Set aside at least 90 minutes for the tour, but you can easily spend two hours. Some Titanic buffs spend the entire day in the museum. Titanic Branson, 3235 76 Country Blvd. at Hwy. 165. Tel. 417-334-9500, toll free 800-381-7670. www.titanicbranson.com. Tickets can be purchased online for specific entry times between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., daily. Prices are $18.82 +tax for adults, $9.99 +tax for children aged 5-12, age 4 and under and free. Family Pass, good for two adults and up to four children under the age of 18, $49.28 +tax. A 90-minute audio tour is available for an additional fee.
Branson Titanic Great article! Visually descriptive and engaging. I enjoyed knowing the Titanic continues to live on in the Heartland of America! While the article is well written, I am increasing troubled by a disturbing trend invading both the written and spoken language: the misuse of the word "myself". Even professional journalists fall into that almost invisible trap. "Myself" is reflexive, and should only be used as such. I'm the only one who can do anything to "myself". No one else can. As a writer/editor/proofreader for the military, I see it all the time in letters and memorandums. Lines such as: "for details, please contact MAJ Clark or myself before COB today". The correct way to write this should be "...please contact MAJ Clark or me before...". Recall your basic English. Break down the sentence into its separate parts: "contact MAJ Clark by COB today" and "contact me by COB today".. not "myself". When you break it down, you can tell how bad it really sounds. Regarding Ms Parker's article, the first line of the second paragraph should read "...my boyfriend, his 12-year-old and 8-year-old sons, and me...". I don't mean to nit pick, but as professional writers, those are simply errors we should not be making. Just because we have a President who brags about having been a "C-Average" student in college (how patheitc) and who cannot string one sentence together without falling all over his words, is no reason for the rest of America to "dumb down" to his level. Unfortunately, that is exactly what I've seen happening the past eight years: the "dumbing down" of America. We have to guard against that. We have to be the ones to turn that trend around and to not continue to fall prey to journalistic laziness. Let's begin here to change the course of "C-average" writing back to an "A+" level. I will now step down from my soap box. Again, great article. I enjoyed it very much, and will certainly take a trip to Branson to see the Titanic. Keep up the great work, and "Write-On!" Respectfully, SGT Joseph Herbst National Guard Bureau Education Division Washington DC