Southampton City Council is in the process of appointing Urban Salon to design a permanent exhibition about the Titanic, which set sail from the city’s port nearly 100 years ago.
The exhibition will constitute phase one of a new £28m maritime museum based in Southampton’s Civic Centre. Architect Wilkinson Eyre has been appointed to work on the civic centre, which will feature a glazed extension to house the show. Urban Salon won a competitive tender against several other design groups to secure the contract, which will involve the design of a replica dockside and walk-on Titanic, as well as a series of digital interactives.
‘I am very keen for the show to have maximum interactive elements using the latest technology, so we can create a very exciting visitor attraction and experience,’ says Southampton City Council cabinet member for leisure, culture and heritage, councillor John Hannides.
Hannides rejects suggestions that the museum’s contents will duplicate those of the new £11m attraction dedicated to the Titanic in Belfast, where the ship was built. Belfast’s Titanic/Maritime Heritage Signature Project, which is being designed by Event Communications (DW 11 December 2008) and is set to complete in 2012, will also feature interactive elements that recreate the experience of being on board the doomed liner.
‘Ever since this project came to light, people have drawn comparisons with Belfast, but besides the central theme, our project will have nothing in common with the other project,’ says Hannides.
The Southampton brief involves telling the Titanic’s story from the crew’s perspective. ‘The vast majority of the crew were Southampton residents,’ says Hannides. A total of 549 of the dead, or about one third of the total casualties, came from the city.
Hannides describes one digital interactive idea that would allow visitors to assume the identity of a crew member, thereby accessing different areas of the ship’s anatomy.
Phase one of the museum is due for completion by 2012, which marks the centenary of the Titanic’s launch and sinking.
The council says it will probably use its own in-house design team to create branding and marketing materials for the museum.
Southampton City Council offered the design commission to Urban Salon last week, and the two organisations are now in the process of signing contracts.
funding a titanic exhibition
- March 2009 – Heritage Lottery Fund awards £500 000 to Southampton to develop plans for a new visitor attraction with the working title Sea City Museum
- June 2009 – Southampton City Council offers Urban Salon the exhibition design contract to create the Titanic exhibition within the museum
- November 2009 – the council will seek further funding for the museum, which it estimates will cost a total of £28m to create
- April 2012 – phase one of the museum, containing the Titanic exhibition, due for completion in time for the centenary of the Titanic’s demise
- Phase two, incorporating the general maritime exhibition, will follow the completion of phase one