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Monday, August 20, 2012

Titanic exhibition at National Geographic ends September 9

The bow of the Titanic, photographed
by Hercules, a remotely controlled vehicle, in June, 2004/U.S.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island and Wikimedia Commons
The most fascinating part of the Titanic exhibition at National Geographic comes near the end where descriptions of its discovery and depictions of the shipwreck reveal what it looks like now, more than two miles below the surface of the sea.

A constructed model of the present appearance of the ship suggests a tombstone on a remote and uninhabitable planet where 1,496 persons died.

A scale model of the Titanic's sunken bow which was used for the movie, Titanic, and by James Cameron for planning archaeological expeditions to the ship.  Access points help determine where remotely controlled vehicles (ROVs) may enter and exit the ship. 20th Century Fox Film Corporation/Patricia Leslie

At National Geographic visitors can see "Elwood," one of the actual little remotes used to weave in and out of the wreck.

"Elwood," an "ROV," weighs about 100 lbs. above water, and was developed and built by James Cameron's brother to maneuver inside the ship.  Two ROVs were operated simultaneously:  one to light the ship and one to film/Patricia Leslie

For anyone with the slightest knowledge of the Titanic’s voyage and tragedy, however, there is little new in the first half of the exhibition which chiefly features props from the 1997 movie, Titanic. 

A cherub light fixture from the film, Titanic. 20th Century Fox Film Corporation/Patricia Leslie

National Geographic's Titanic exhibition is certainly better for the admission value ($8 vs. $22, converted) than the disappointing, new and much larger museum in Belfast, Ireland which is practically nothing more than a tame indoor amusement ride and visuals upon walls. (Unless you are in the construction business.) More about it later.

"Explorer-in-residence" and the director of the movie who has made more than 30 dives to the shipwreck, James Cameron, tells a fascinating story about investigating the Titanic's remains in "Ghostwalking in Titanic."  Robert Ballard discovered the shipwreck in 1985. 

For excellent photos and present-day interior scenes of the sunken ship, visit  National Geographic's website.

Children play on a lighted recreation of a silhouette's ruins/Patricia Leslie

What: Titanic:  100 Year Obsession

When: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily through September 9, 2012

Where:  National Geographic, 17th and M streets, NW, Washington, D.C.

Admission: Adults: $8; seniors, military, students: $6; children ages 5-12, $4; school and youth groups, under age 18,  no charge. Purchase tickets here.

Closest Metro station:  Farragut West or Farragut North

For more information:  800-647-5463

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