Pros: The interactive exhibits; The layout; The real- life tales; The gift shop; The education
Cons: None at all!
It was April 12, 1912, and a large cruise ship was ready to set sail from Southhampton, Hampshire, England on route to New York City. The ship was the largest and most technically advanced ever built, with unparalleled accommodations and unmatched luxury for those who could afford the high price. It was a ship like no other, and passengers were in high spirits as the ship pulled away from the dock and headed toward the Atlantic Ocean for a voyage that was scheduled to last less than one week and that all but guaranteed a safe and joyous arrival in the United States.
Then, the unthinkable occurred. Late in the evening on April 14, 1912, this ship named the Titanic struck an iceberg, tearing a large gash in its hull. The collision took place at 11:40 p.m. and by 2:20 a.m. the morning of April 15, 1912, this once great cruise liner considered unsinkable and indestructible was headed toward the Atlantic Ocean floor. About one- third of the passengers and crew managed to survive. The remaining two- thirds either sunk to the ocean floor or died bobbing up in down in the frigid waters as their bodies succumbed to hypothermia. Their story and the fate of the Titanic are brought to life at the Titanic Museum in Branson Missouri. Let’s take a closer look at this museum and what it offers:
The Titanic Museum in Branson is one of two such museums (the other is in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee) that honor the Titanic and its passengers and crew. The museum is shaped like a replica of the Titanic, with the outside designed to look like the actual ship, complete with a make- believe iceberg touching the ship and a pond area with a fountain in front, to provide the appearance of water parting to each side as the nose of ship traversed the frigid Atlantic waters.
Entering the museum, guests are presented with a boarding pass and are then instructed by the crew members to head inside the ship. Once there, guests are introduced to some of the history of the Titanic, its crew, the different class divisions on the ship, and a timeline that follows the ship on its departure all the way to its sinking not too far from the shores of Newfoundland, Canada.
Walking around through the museum, guests get to see more than 400 actual Titanic artifacts with a value of more than $4 million- the largest Titanic collection in the world. They get to learn more about the ships’ dining facilities, sleeping quarters, divisions of activities between the three classes, captain and other high- ranking crew, and even the dogs and other pets who were on board when the ship went down. A walk up the grand staircase provides guests with a feel for the luxury of Titanic’s first class and there are countless exhibits that help to illustrate what conditions were like aboard the ship, both before and after the large vessel struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912. The tour ends with a listing of all the passengers and crew aboard the Titanic, with names of survivors clearly indicated, followed by a gift shop where curious visitors can purchase souvenirs, books, and other items.
Cost of Admission/Hours of Operation:
At present, admission to the Titanic Museum Branson costs about $25 for adults and kids age 12 and up. Children between the ages of 5 and 12 cost $12 each and a family pass (good for two adults and up to four children) can be purchased for $68. Children under the age of 5 are admitted free of charge (note that these prices are subject to change at any time). The museum is open almost every day of the year, but hours vary, so check an official schedule before making plans.
Branson’s Titanic Museum is a great tourist attraction with an experience every bit as epic as the Titanic voyage itself. Located on Route 76 in Branson, approximately in the center of local attractions, the Titanic Museum is easily the best museum in the area and one that tourists should definitely try to include in their list of weekly excursions.
The story of the Titanic is certainly a fascinating one and it continues to intrigue more than 100 years later. Most everyone is familiar with the Oscar award- winning movie of the same name and knows at least a little bit about the ill- fated voyage of the Titanic back in 1912. I, too, know some information about the ship and its sinking in the Atlantic, but my knowledge level was only a little better than average when I walked into the Titanic Museum in Branson for the first time. I left, however, with newfound knowledge and an increased interest in the Titanic’s history thanks to the excellent educational and interactive experience offered at this tourist attraction in the heart of Branson, Missouri.
Upon arriving at the Titanic Museum, guests are likely going to be as impressed as I was, first by the museum’s exterior. Rather than house the museum in a box- shaped building, the museum is built to look like the Titanic ship. It isn’t a full ship- only a partial- but it is still nice because it looks like the ship and, along with the make- believe iceberg, it helps put you in a certain mood. You feel like you are actually boarding the Titanic itself when you enter the museum doors and you are better prepared to experience the ship much like those who set sail back on April 12, 1912.
Once inside, the Titanic Museum checks in each guest and presents him/her with a boarding pass. Each boarding pass is different and tells a story of a passenger- one of the passengers who boarded the Titanic on that fateful day. You are provided a little background on your passenger, including name, age, class (first, second, or third, referring to the accommodations the passenger was provided on the ship), reason for taking the voyage, and more. At the end of the tour, a large listing of passengers is presented, on the wall, sorted by class, and further sorted alphabetically. Guests on the tour can then lookup their passenger and see if he/she survived or perished. This helps make each visit unique and, again, gets you thinking about the people, their voyage, and what it much have felt like when the ship struck the iceberg and the passengers realized they were knocking on death’s door.
Walking through the Titanic Museum, guests are treated to history, education, and interactive exhibits that present a specific aspect of the voyage that, once again, help guests better understand what it must have been like to sail on such an amazing ship and how it must have felt to fight for life as the ship started to sink. Guests get to see the first, second, and third class accommodations as well as read notes and view actual artifacts related to the Titanic and those onboard. There is even a special tribute section to the 133 children aboard the Titanic when it set sail and there is even information on the pets aboard the ship, all of which lost their lives when the ship went under. It took about 2 hours and 40 minutes for the ship to sink completely and guests feel like they are right there, feeling the chaos and sheer terror as the passengers ran back and forth, fought for lifeboats, and prayed that they might survive.
If this wasn’t enough, the Titanic Museum in Branson offers even more to make it a one- of- a- kind museum experience, starting with children. Kids often dislike museums because they feel most are boring, but they are almost guaranteed to have great fun when they visit here. Part of the reason is because, upon arrival, they are presented with a special scavenger hunt card that asks them to find answers to questions and then scratch them off the card. This is fun because most kids love scavenger hunts and also because it is educational. Kids go from one exhibit to the next, looking for answers to Titanic trivia questions, using their audio device (everyone is presented with an audio device- there is no extra charge) for more information, and scratching off answers once they are found. They get to learn all about this (in)famous ship and they end up gaining some education without even realizing it.
The Titanic Museum in Branson has so many extra reasons to enjoy it that there isn’t sufficient space to cover them all, but let’s touch on a few standouts that I feel make the museum one of the best of its kind. One is the employees at the museum. They are dressed just like the actual people were dressed on the Titanic and some even have British accents to help make the experience even more authentic. They tell stories about the people and crew- stories which are often tragic and tear- jerking, but some of which end happily. Then, there are the interesting exhibits. One of them includes three different platforms with hand rails at different angles (10 degrees, 30 degrees, and 45 degrees) and allows guests the opportunity to hold on and try to climb. This lets visitors better understand what it would be like to try to hang on for dear life as the ship was breaking in two and about to sink. With the 45 degree angle, guests can see just how difficult and how steep this angle really is and when you consider that splashing water, cold winds, and total chaos were taking place all around the people on the ship, it becomes clearer just how insane the experience must have been for the 2000+ passengers on board.
Another fun exhibit is one meant to educate on the cold waters in which the ship sank that some of the passengers were forced to endure as they bobbed up and down with nothing more than a life jacket. You stick your fingers or entire hand (if you’re brave enough) into ice- cold water that is about the same temperature as that of the Atlantic Ocean in the area where the ship went down. You then set the timer to see how long you can keep your fingers in the icy water before you have to pull them out. It helps show just how excruciating this experience must have been for those involved who, after all, had most of their bodies under water and were certain to fall victim to hypothermia in a matter of minutes. These exhibits, and others like them, help to bring the events of the Titanic to life and help guests better understand the ship, its voyage, and its demise.
Museums are commonplace and most have at least something to offer in terms of education and other value, but the Titanic Museum in Branson is one of the best. It is one of the few museums I have ever visited that was even better than I expected and I left the museum with a newfound respect and interest for the people, the crew, and others who were on their way to the United States in hope of great times and/or a great new life, only to find their hopes and dreams brought to a sudden, shattering end at the edge of a massive block of ice. It’s an excellent museum and one everyone should add to their list of must- see attractions in Branson, Missouri.