Few are alive today who were born before the RMS Titanic sank in 1912. Meredith Vontroba wasn’t even alive when the 1997 Hollywood drama about the tragic voyage hit theaters.
But she and dad Nick drove down from Adrian on Saturday for the public premiere of “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” at Imagination Station, which runs until June 15. Though she’s only 10 years old, Meredith is a history buff and has several books about the Titanic.
A mini iceberg replica was cool — both figuratively and literally, she said. Artifacts retrieved from the ocean floor also piqued her interest. She really couldn’t find a negative in the exhibit.
“I liked all of it,” she said.
The winding, 6,500-square-foot exhibit includes personal belongings of Titanic passengers, re-created rooms from the ship, and posters that explain the history surrounding the Titanic and its sinking. Actors play the roles of prominent passengers.
The exhibit starts with the ship’s construction, and ends with a wall listing the names of all those aboard who died or survived. Each attendee gets a card with the name and personal history of a Titanic passenger.
Julian Simmons, 10, said he liked that the exhibit makes the experience personal, as he got to learn if his particular passenger made it onto a life raft or perished.
“The suspense of if I was going to survive” was his favorite part, he said.
The exhibit in Toledo, among nine traveling and permanent editions, is one of the smaller versions owned by Atlanta-based Premier Exhibitions Inc.
Premier took no artifacts from the ship’s wreckage, company spokesman Theresa Costas said. Instead, display items were collected from a debris field surrounding the shipwreck. The Titanic itself stays as a memorial, at least until it deteriorates completely.
Among early viewers of the exhibit Saturday was a group of teachers who participated in professional-development sessions conducted by the Center for Nonprofit Resources and the Maumee Valley Historical Society.
Teachers can align lessons about the Titanic with state standards in a variety of subjects, said Michelle Klinger from the center. For example, survivors’ differing accounts of music on-board musicians performed as the ship sank can be cited in lessons about witness unreliability or cultural bias — American and British passengers had differing recollections of the songs.
■ WHEN: Tuesday-Saturday: 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., Sunday: Noon to 5 p.m., Closed Mondays except open on Presidents’ Day and Memorial Day, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. The exhibit runs through June 15.
■ ADMISSION: $6.50 for Imagination Station members. For nonmembers, admission to the museum and the exhibit is $19.50 for adults ages 13 to 64, $17.50 for seniors 65 and older, $15.50 for children ages 3 to 12, and free for children 2 and younger.
A trio of fifth-grade teachers from Sylvania’s Hill View Elementary said they planned to develop lessons centered on the Titanic that include elements of nearly every subject. Pamela Retner, Megan Picott, and Janice Masters said the exhibit and material about the ship could be used to teach history, literature, math, science, and more.
Students could learn about ratios when talking about how many passengers died or survived. Buoyancy and mass lessons would add a scientific element. And students would learn while having fun.
Already, 12-year-old Mia Ruiz said she plans to do her own research after viewing the exhibit. While checking the fate of her passenger with her cousin, young Simmons, she said she’d do more historical research on the Internet when she got home.
The exhibit, sponsored locally by BP, The Blade, and WTVG-TV, Channel 13, was previously featured at museums in Detroit, Cleveland, and Columbus.
Imagination Station staff said they expected more than 30,000 people to view the exhibit.