Houston’s Museum of Natural Science pays tribute to the famous 1912 shipwreck
A century ago in April, the British passenger ship RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on its maiden voyage en route to New York, killing more than 1,500 passengers. While the wreck of the Titanic remains on the seabed even today, in 1987 crews began to recover artifacts from the debris field, fueling a number of exhibitions at museums worldwide.
In honor of the shipwreck’s 100th anniversary, the Museum of Natural Science in Houston welcomes Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition through mid-September. The more than 200 pieces on display include jewelry, china bearing the ship’s White Star Line logo, perfume bottles, currency, and interestingly, many personal effects made of leather.
Theresa Nelson, a member of the education team entrusted with interpreting the exhibition, explains: “Our conservation team preserves these items, but we don’t restore the items. As the ship broke in half and sank, it traveled 2.5 miles to its final resting place, and many items were ripped from the ship. As you can imagine, in many cases, the items are very worn. But some of the best-preserved pieces, such as currency and jewelry, were found in leather suitcases, trunks, or wallets. Why is this? Well, in the early 1900s, the process used to tan leather included chemicals that repelled microorganisms at the bottom of the sea. And with the pressure of the water at the bottom of the sea, these suitcases and such were sealed shut. When we bring up a leather suitcase or trunk, it’s like a time capsule.”
Call 713/639-4629; www.hmns.org. —Lori Moffatt