Thursday, July 3, 2014

Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN

In Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, ten miles from the motel where we stayed in Gatlinburg, is the giant 30,000 square foot, ship-shaped Titanic Museum, owned by John Joslyn.  Joslyn co-led the 1987 expedition that recovered and restored artifacts from the ocean floor where the Titanic sunk.  The museum was on our itinerary to visit, and we were so glad we did. For anyone interested in Titanic history, this museum is a must.  In addition to history, it is a memorial to those who perished, as all passenger and crew members are acknowledged and honored in the museum. 

Adult tickets are $27.00 per person, including tax and the audio unit for the self-guided tour. It takes approximately two hours to tour the museum. 

Since no photography is allowed inside the museum, I took several pictures outside.  As you can see, the replica ship is very life-like.

A replica of the iceberg responsible for sinking the Titanic.

A replica of Titanic's center anchor.

Captain at the museum entrance.

Fortunately there wasn't a crowd when we arrived, so we were able to enter the museum without a long line.  The parking lot was crowded by the time we left, however.

The audio devices which provided detailed information about everything in the museum was via the voice of "Janie" - a first class maid.

Three flags were flying when we entered the museum - Ireland's national flag because the ship was built in Belfast.  England's national flag because the Titanic was a White Star Line ship. White Star Line was a prominent British shipping company. And an American flag because John Pierpont [JP] Morgan, an American financier, funded the building of the Titanic.

Every person touring the museum received a Boarding Pass by a costumed crew member when they entered.  The pass contained the name and history of a Titanic passenger.  At the conclusion of the museum tour we were able to find out if the person on our pass survived or perished in the Memorial Room Gallery.  I was 2nd class passenger Lutie Parrish and I survived. Jerry was 2nd class passenger Samuel Herman and he perished.

There were 3,000 teacups on board the Titanic in different patterns for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class dining.  My hubby bought me a replica teacup of the Cobalt Blue Titanic Woodmere VIP china in the museum gift shop [$49.99 plus tax]. It was the most expensive and prestigious china on board the Titanic, and was said to be used exclusively at Captain Smith's table, and for private gatherings.  

I already had a replica of the 1st class teacup in the Wisteria pattern [right], and the 2nd class blue delft teacup [left].  Now I only need to acquire a teacup from 3rd class.

Formal attire was required for 1st class passengers at dinner.  A bugler announced dinner by playing the patriotic tune, "The Roast Beef of Old England."  Only gleaming silver, crystal and fine china were used.

A passenger, Francis Browne, provided the only photos of passengers on board the Titanic that exist.  An amateur photographer, he was studying for the priesthood, and his bishop uncle purchased his Titanic ticket from Southampton, England to Queenstown, Ireland. The priceless film was with him when he disembarked.

A 1st Parlor Suite assigned to Isidor and Ida Straus [co-owners of Macy's Department Stores] was recreated at the museum. Mrs. Straus refused to be separated from her husband of 41 years, declining two life boat invitations, and went down with her husband when the Titanic sank.

Included in the Straus' suite was a tea gown reproduced from an original sketch by Lucy Christiana/Lady Duff Gordon, an Internationally known fashion designer with shops in London, New York, Paris, and Chicago.  She was the first to use models, introduce slits in skirts, and do away with corsets.  Yay, Lucy!  ;-)

[Gift shop post card image of the tea gown]

Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff-Gordon were passengers on the Titanic, and survived the tragic sinking in Life Boat #1, which contained only 12 passengers.  

As you would expect, the Unsinkable Molly Brown is part of the museum, and so much more.

Jerry bought me the book, Polar, the Titanic Bear - which is a true story about a white mohair Steiff bear that belonged to Douglas Spedden, a seven year old 1st class passenger on the Titanic with his parents.  They all survived the disaster.  His mother, Daisy, wrote the story and gave it to Douglas on Christmas Day 1913. The story is told from Polar's perspective, who also survived the sinking.  I think my younger grandchildren will enjoy it.

I already had the non-fiction book, A Girl Aboard the Titanic, before we left on vacation, and packed it in my travel book bag.  It's the biography of 2nd class passenger Eva Hart - also seven years old - who was emigrating to Canada with her parents, Benjamin and Esther Hart. They sold the book in the museum gift shop.  Esther Hart had a strong premonition that the Titanic was going to sink, so she slept in the daytime when everyone was awake, and stayed up at night while everyone slept. Her apprehension and vigilance is mentioned in the museum. She was indeed aware when the ship struck the iceberg and immediately awoke her husband and daughter. Mr. Hart perished, but she and Eva survived in Life Boat #14.  I couldn't put the book down until I read it entirely after touring the museum.  Eva was one of the longest living survivors, passing away in 1996, two weeks after celebrating her 91st birthday.  Though traumatized by the ship's sinking and loss of her father, she went on to live a very successful and interesting life.  She remained single her entire life, and Queen Elizabeth II bestowed on her the honor of Membership of the Most Noble Order of the British Empire in 1974.  And yes, tea is part of Eva's biography!

John Joslyn has two other Titanic museums in Branson, Missouri and Orlando, Florida.  If you have an opportunity to visit any of the three, I highly recommend it. 

The only thing missing from the museum gift shop was Harney's Titanic Blend.  Wonder if anyone from the company contacted the three museums about carrying their tea???


  1. Sounds like a very interesting place, I'm so glad you got to visit it. Love the blue teacup!

  2. I had never heard of this and would love to see it too! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Phyllis, I went to the Titanic museum in Belfast while in Ireland. It was fantastic and took several hours to go through - we were allowed photography, just no flash. It was sad to hear actual interviews played in one part where third class was told there was no problem and to go back to their rooms.

  4. My sisters and I visited the Titanic exhibit when it was in Houston, Texas. It is so fascinating! My passenger was Mrs. Nils Palsson from Sweden and her 4 children. She was travelling to Chicago to join her husband. Sadly, they did not survive. I was a little upset when we were in the room with the list of the survivors and those who did not make it. People were actually joking about it saying ," Oh look, mine kicked the bucket!". How would they like it if someone in their family didn't survive?
    Anyway, I bought a little egg cup with the White Star Line flag on it as a souvenir. I would love to read that book about Eva Hart.

  5. This was a very interesting post to read--thanks so much for sharing! I enjoyed seeing your three Titanic teacups and the tea gown was lovely.

  6. I remember getting info about the press preview when the museum opened (back when I was "press"), but I have not heard from anyone who's actually visited so I am happy to hear your review! Sounds like a good, well-planned exhibit and something I would really enjoy. And I want Jerry to go with me so he'll be nice and buy me all the lovely souvenirs that he bought you. (Ha!)


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