Like many people, I am fascinated by the story of the Titanic, so when a museum dedicated to the ship’s story opened in Belfast in March 2012, a visit immediately became a priority.
Belfast is where the great liner was built by the firm Harland and Wolff, and Titanic Belfast, as it is known, sits right by the slipway where the vessel was launched in 1911. The eight-story building itself is extraordinary, with angled walls clad in anodized aluminum that recall the prows of great ships. (Some local people, however, insist that the structure looks more like an iceberg.)
Inside, the exhibitions are arranged in nine galleries. The history of the Titanic comes alive in its entirety, beginning with the context of Belfast as an industrial boomtown. (The city was a base for major cotton, linen, tobacco, whiskey and rope-making companies, in addition to Harland and Wolff.)
Subsequent exhibits deal with the design and construction of the ship, its launch, how it was furnished and outfitted, the events leading up to the catastrophe, the sinking of the ship, the world’s reaction, the inquiry, depictions of the tragedy and what has been learned since the wreck was discovered by deep-sea explorer Robert Ballard in 1985. I had allotted two hours for my visit but could have stayed much longer.