Review: Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Titanic museum entrance at Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Titanic museum entrance at Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic on April 15, 2012 is three weeks away. There will be concerts, plays, lectures, and memorial cruises. New books have been published. James Cameron is re-releasing his 1997 movie. People in Belfast (where Titanic was built), Southampton (her last port), and Halifax (where many of her dead are buried) are all are preparing. But there’s another part of the world that’s preparing. One you may not think of immediately when you think of Titanic, but deserves to be mentioned — and visited — if you’re in the area: the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

I visited the museum last summer on a family vacation. At first, I worried that the museum “attraction” in the heart of Dollywood country wouldn’t pay the proper respect toward the disaster or the deaths that followed it. (For those of you who haven’t been there, the area is kind of like a jumped up Jersey Shore in the mountains). But my fears were unfounded; the folks at the museum got it right. The museum’s mission seemed equal parts education, memorial, and tasteful entertainment.

The museum is an “attraction” because it’s an interactive experience that includes a tour through some of Titanic’s recreated famous spaces: the Grand Staircase, the Straus’ first class suite, a gated stairwell filling with rushing water, and the Bridge — complete with a moonless, cloudless sky full of stars,  a real life wall of ice, and an area where you can stick your hand in 28 degree water and feel how cold it is. (Yes, it hurt. Yes, I was surprised. And yes, I felt shock and horror all over again for anyone who had to face that, just as the museum makers intended me to.)

One of the things I liked about the museum was its mixture of static artifacts (a recovered deck chair, a dress made from one of Lady Duff Gordon’s drawings, cabin keys, lost letters) and live employees who served as both docents and actors playing crew members. We, the visiting public, got to play the parts of various passengers. (I was Gertrude Thorne, a first class passenger and the mistress of a married man. My dad got to play the part of the infamous Francis Millet, war correspondent, artist, sculptor, writer.)

One of the ways the Titanic Museum is paying tribute to those who died is its Rose Petal Memorial. Starting last September and ending April 1st, all guests who visit the museum can deposit a rose petal into a container in the Memorial Gallery. Once collected, these petals will be scattered over the surface of the Atlantic Ocean directly above the spot where Titanic sank. It’s a nice way for anyone, of any age, to pay tribute to the victims of the biggest peacetime maritime disaster in history.

What about you? Does Titanic’s story interest you? Are you planning on doing anything to mark the occasion? Have you been to the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge? What did you think? Have you been to The Great Smokey Mountains?

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Published by

Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and POCKET FULL OF TINDER.

12 thoughts on “Review: Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

  1. Hi Jill. my family and i often stay in pigeon forge alot during the summer, i sort of “dragged my mom, my niece to the museum and i don’t have to tell you, i had a blast reading everything in the museum itself the highlight of my experience there was going up and down the grand stair case on my last visit there as i was coming down i had to laughed and i said to my mom i felt like kate winslet from the movie. and also the staff was super friendly and helpful. on my visit i was “molly brown” one of my heroes

    1. Hi Sandy– It was neat how realistic looking some of the recreated spaces were. It almost felt like you were on the set for the movie Titanic. Molly Brown would have been a fun character to play. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story!

    1. Hi Brinda– I knew there was one in Branson too, but haven’t been. Although I’m sure much is the same, I imagine some of the personal items are different. Even the most mundane everyday things (keys, a hairbrush) take on so much significance because of where they were found and what the previous owner went through. It really makes one pause and think. Life is precious. Hope you had a great weekend. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Your description of The Titanic Experience makes me want to experience it, even though I know I’ll have a strong visceral reaction to what those poor passengers experienced.

    I love that they put their visitors in the shoes of one of the passengers on that tragic night. It must make the experience more emotive.

    As for the smokey mountains. I’ve visited.I’ve traveled through. I’ve wanted to stay forever.

    Great topic and well-written post, Jill.

    1. Hi Gloria– It was definitely an emotional visit. But worth it. I love the Smokey Mountains. I love that one day you can be in the heart of a place like Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg (all bright, blinking neon lights and endless highway sprawl) and the next be hiking in the national park with pristine, panoramic views of hazy, bluish-green tree-covered mountains. Thanks for the comment. Enjoy your Sunday.

    1. Hi Patti– I was surprised by how positive the museum experience was, considering how tragic the story is. But it’s a significant historical event, one kids should be aware of. I also thought it was nice that so many of the passenger’s stories are still being told. Thanks for the comment. Hope you’re doing well.

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