Titanic attraction remarkably engaging and respectful
By Bruce C. Steele - Take5
As I enter the newly opened Titanic museum, I'm handed a boarding pass.
The good news is I've been assigned the identity of Isidor Straus, the wealthy founder of Macy's department store. He and his wife, Ida, stayed in one of the best first-class suites on the ship.
It's the room where Jack draws a nude portrait of Rose in James Cameron's movie. And it's faithfully reproduced on the second floor of the museum.
The bad news is I'm one of the 1,517 people who perished when the ship hit an iceberg and sank at 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912. The outside of “Titanic: The World's Largest Museum Attraction,” as it's called, is a huge, half-scale reproduction of the front half of the ship, apparently about to sail across Parkway, Pigeon Forge's main drag.
But beyond the goofball exterior is a remarkably informative, entertaining and, yes, respectful museum. In addition to its treasure trove of authentic artifacts — a deck chair, Mrs. Astor's actual life jacket, a crew member's penknife — it recounts in detail the lives of dozens of the ship's passengers who might otherwise have been forgotten.
“I like to say whether you're 5 or 95, you're going to enjoy this experience and how it pays tribute to those who were on board,” said John Joslyn, who owns and created the attraction with his wife, Mary Kellogg. “It tells their story.”
The research is impressive — and unique, since much of it is driven by the artifacts on hand.