Titanic Belfast has firmly established itself on the local, national and international stage, having welcomed more than 7.5 million visitors from over 145 countries since opening in 2012 and previously being voted the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the prestigious World Travel Awards. To stay at the forefront of its industry and continue to drive visitors to Belfast and Ireland, Titanic Belfast developed plans to enhance the Titanic Experience in an innovative way for future generations.
OPERA Amsterdam and Studio Louter were appointed to design and deliver a world-class spectacle alongside Titanic Belfast’s skilled in-house team. It was important that despite a major change to a third of the experience, the new galleries would be seamlessly integrated with the exiting galleries, the visitor flow was not impacted and operational capacities would not be affected. Clear plans, drawings, on-site presence and communication was essential, as well as flexibility and collaboration between all parties.
Visitor feedback fed into the project, helping to shape and inform the design to be a more sensory and immersive experience. The project built on the trend of immersive experiences by interweaving an emotive storyline and artefacts to make the stories more tangible and deepen the emotional connection.
The story of Titanic is one of great loss and sadness but there is also another perspective; one of hope, ambition and determination. About the people of Belfast who had the ambition to build the biggest and most luxurious ship in the world, about people who were pursuing their dreams to start a new life in a new world. And about a young boy who dreamt of exploring the ocean and finding Titanic’s lost wreck. Dreaming big became the core of the narrative and presentation techniques.
Four new galleries were developed, starting with the aftermath of the sinking. Visitors see a backlit wall noting the names of those saved and lost on that fateful night. Positioned prominently in front of those names is one of only twelve remaining Titanic life jackets, creating a meaningful ensemble. Demonstrated by large tumbling dominos, visitors then explore the chain reaction of events which caused Titanic to sink and the measures put in place to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.
Visitors pass through the void, the period of years when the ship was missing, before following Dr Robert Ballard’s quest to fulfil his lifelong dream to discover the wreck of Titanic. In eight spatial scenes visitors discover where his inspiration came from, the challenges he had to overcome and then witness the moment Ballard and his team find the wreck.
The Pursuit of Dreams builds to an emotional finale. Visitors descend a spiral staircase and go on a reflective journey into a world of dreams chased. Suspended at its centre is a revolving 7.6-metre model of RMS Titanic. An immersive light show, a specially composed soundscape and room-filling projections sweep visitors up in the hopes and dreams of the people who worked and travelled on the ship. Downstairs, a stunning collection of original Titanic artefacts is on display, including the world-famous violin belonging to the ship’s hero musician, Wallace Hartley.
Drawing on the dreams, personal stories and human connections to Titanic, the team were able to connect with visitors in a way the experience never did before. Telling untold stories, bringing emotion to the fore and making it truly immersive through a combination of technologies – putting a beating heart into the visitor journey. Following the project, Titanic Belfast has recorded its busiest summer since opening and visitor research shows that guests are emotionally moved like never before.
Through extensive collaboration and a holistic design approach, the team has delivered an authentic, world class experience that Belfast can be proud of and that will sustain Titanic Belfast into the future.
Client: Titanic Belfast
Charity Owner: Maritime Belfast Trust
Exhibition Design: OPERA Amsterdam
Content Design: Studio Louter
Multimedia Production: Shosho B.V.