If you’ve ever driven down Highway 76 in Branson, Missouri (something I do several times a week), you’ll know it’s impossible to miss the Titanic Museum Attraction as you pass.
I visited once waaaaay back when it first opened (about 10 years ago, I think?) and then again recently. They’ve definitely added a lot to their collection since my first visit, and a few things have changed. I’ll fill you in on all of it!
One note before we begin – Photos and videos are not allowed inside the attraction, so pardon the lack of photos taken by me in this post. (I have borrowed a few from the media section of their website so that you will have some visuals!) They said that it’s for copyright reasons, and it does preserve the reverent atmosphere, but it did lessen my enjoyment a little bit. There are a few spots that would be fantastic for a photo (the Grand Staircase and Captain’s Wheel, for example), so I wish that they at least allowed photos in select spots. If you’re a curious sort like me, you may want to bring a pen and paper along. Since I couldn’t take photos of things and people I wanted to look up more info on, I jotted down notes instead.
(As a side note, I think the no photography rule is a newer one, since I remember being able to take photos the first time I visited. There are quite a few photos on TripAdvisor, but I’m a rule follower so I didn’t take any during my visit.)
Upon entering, you receive a boarding pass (Mine is above) with the name and brief story of a real passenger, as well as a listening device for the audio tour. As you tour the museum, you can keep an eye out for photos and stories about your passenger, and find their name on the memorial wall at the end to see if they survived or not. For the audio tour, most exhibits have a number that can be typed into your device to play information. The audio content expands on the written descriptions, and sometimes includes stories from survivors. Some exhibits and artifacts have a second number, which is for the kid’s version of the audio tour.
Most of the exhibits are permanent, but they also have temporary ones that last for a few months. During my visit, there was a collection of fashion designed by Lady Duff Gordon, one of the first class passengers.
The second one from the left reminded me a lot of this dress from the Titanic movie:
Not the same cut, obviously, but similar colors and the same thick ribbon empire waist. I’d guess that the movie’s costume department took a lot of inspiration from Lady Duff Gordon’s designs! You can check the Titanic Museum Attraction’s website to see what the current rotating exhibit is before visiting.
Touring the museum takes about 90 minutes for the average visitor – someone who stops to read a fair amount of the info and examine the exhibits and artifacts, but not to read and listen to every word. You’ll find life-size recreations of the accommodations, including a third class cabin with tiny little bunk beds, authentic recovered artifacts including life jackets, and an interesting display that shows the difference between the first, second, an third-class dinnerware and menus.
In addition to the artifacts, you’ll find some interactive exhibits. In one area, you can try to balance on the sloping surface of the deck as the ship tilted to steeper angles while sinking, while another spot offers the opportunity to see how long you can hold your hand in 28-degree water, which is the temperature the water was when the ship sank.
As you exit the museum, you’ll find a small gift shop with an array of memorabilia and an impressive selection of Titanic-related books.
A few cool notes about the Titanic Museum Attraction in Branson:
*They offer early admission for guests with autism once a week so that they can have a more comfortable touring experience.
*There’s an education guide on their website with ways to incorporate lessons in almost every subject around the Titanic. It would be a fantastic resource for home schoolers! There’s also a scavenger hunt you can print out so kids can search for the answers as you explore.
*They just started a podcast that tells the stories of the passengers.
*While most of the museum is kept at a comfortable temperature, when you walk across the starlit promenade deck outside of the captain’s quarters, you’ll notice a distinct chill in the air. I noticed that a nearby thermostat was set to 52 degrees to create the feeling of actually being out at sea on a cold night without making visitors uncomfortably cold. Just a cool example of attention to detail.
*I was surprised to learn that a lot of the crew members were very young – like 14 or 15. Makes sense since this was long before labor laws, but that’s definitely not how I’ve ever pictured the crew.
Be sure to take a moment to pose for some photos outside of the museum before you leave! It’s built to scale and looks so realistic that you can almost forget you’re right in the middle of the Branson 76 Strip.
Overall, this is a sort of difficult experience to describe. I can’t call it “fun” given the tragedy that it comes from, but it is definitely interesting and worth doing. To learn more, visit the Titanic Branson website or visit the Titanic Museum Attraction Facebook page, which posts the latest info and photos from both the Branson and Pigeon Forge museums.