'Titanic' remembered – National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, marks the centenary of the RMS 'Titanic' disaster

The Museum marks the centenary of the sinking of RMS 'Titanic' with a small exhibition and events programme.

Exhibition and events programme – from 8 March 2012

The National Maritime Museum marks the centenary of the sinking of RMS Titanic with a small exhibition and events programme highlighting the stories of some of those who survived the tragedy and exploring how that fateful night in 1912 has become the most famous maritime disaster in history. 'Titanic' Remembered is part of the National Maritime Museum’s on-going programme of small exhibitions covering both historic and contemporary issues, providing visitors with an opportunity to engage and reflect on maritime stories in a more intimate setting.

The 'Titanic' Remembered exhibition showcases a small selection of letters, photographs and objects – highlights from a unique collection gathered by Walter Lord during his research for his bestselling 1955 book A Night to Remember, many of which are on display to the public for the first time.

Lord corresponded with over 60 Titanic survivors and their relatives, and his painstaking research resulted in poignant first-hand accounts of the disaster from a cross-section of those on board; passengers from all classes as well as crew members who survived the sinking. He was gifted numerous personal artefacts by the survivors with whom he corresponded, and their compelling personal stories of survival were woven into his book and later recreated in William MacQuitty’s 1958 film adaptation of the same name – widely considered to be the best film portrayal of the disaster.

Artefacts on display include a letter from Victorine Perkins, maid to the wealthy Ryerson family, in which she describes to Lord her experiences of escaping the sinking ship and witnessing it slip beneath the waves; a hooded woollen cape worn by Elizabeth Mellenger during the disaster, which she later used to keep an officer suffering from hyperthermia warm in the lifeboat; a whistle which was reportedly used by survivors clinging to Lifeboat B to attract attention; and the slippers worn by Edith Russell that night, along with her lucky musical toy pig, which she used to entertain children in Lifeboat 11 whilst awaiting rescue.

A number of survivors’ letters are also brought to life through an audio-visual display, including an account from Quartermaster George Rowe, who describes how Captain Smith instructed him to fire distress rockets to attract attention to the stricken ship; Third Class passenger Anna Sjoblom’s memories of how stairways were kept closed, preventing steerage passengers from easily accessing the deck; and a description from Mrs Louis Ogden, a passenger on the Carpathia, of how the ship sped to the rescue of the Titanic and discovered only lifeboats of survivors, all in white lifebelts, and debris floating on the water. Mrs Ogden’s husband took pictures from the Carpathia of these eerie scenes, some of which are also featured in the gallery.

Both the book and the film of A Night to Remember were hugely influential in fixing the story of Titanic in the public consciousness and Walter Lord became a leading expert on the disaster, advising James Cameron on his 1997 blockbuster, Titanic. 'Titanic' Remembered asks why the sinking has become such an iconic event, ingrained in popular culture. Memorabilia inspired by the disaster amassed by Lord over the years includes everything from Titanic swizzle sticks to adorn drinks at the 1958 film premier, to a Sinking of the 'Titanic' board game – ‘The game you play as the ship goes down… then face the peril of the open sea!’.

In a year when Titanic is once again the subject of numerous television adaptations, documentaries and books, 'Titanic' Remembered explores how the famous disaster evolved from historical tragedy to an icon of popular culture and entertainment, which continues to captivate audiences today.

'Titanic' Remembered is supported by a programme of family and adult events. Details of the events will be available on the website in 2012 at www.nmm.ac.uk.

Exhibition information for visitors

Venue: National Maritime Museum, GreenwichDates: 8 March–30 September 2012Opening times: every day, 10.00–17.00 Visitor enquiries: 020 8312 6565Admission: Free

Notes to editors

  • From March 2012 the National Maritime Museum will be displaying part of a collection of letters and ephemera relating to the Titanic, gathered by the late Walter Lord in connection with his book A Night to Remember. The Museum would like to hear from any descendants of the authors of these letters and any further information they may have about them.

  • The Lord-MacQuitty archive was bequeathed to the National Maritime Museum by the late Walter Lord. The Museum acquired the collection in 2002.

  • The National Maritime Museum holds the world’s largest maritime collection. It is housed in historic buildings forming part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. It incorporates the Royal Observatory Greenwich, and 17th-century Queen’s House. The Museum works to illustrate for everyone the importance of the sea, ships, time and the stars and their relationship with people. The Museum welcomes over 1.5 million British and international visitors a year and is also a major centre of education and research. For more information visit www.nmm.ac.uk


For further information or images, please contact:Jenny Orton or Sheryl TwiggNational Maritime Museum Press OfficeTel: 020 8312 6545/6790 | 07960509802 or email: press@nmm.ac.uk.