A Day of ‘Experiences’ (Meltem Yasdag, ITP 2011, Turkey)

Written by Meltem Yasdag, Culture and Tourism Expert, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Turkey (ITP 2011)

On Wednesday, we continued to discover Northern Ireland museums and their collections. After Tuesday at TITANICa, which is located in Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and tells the story of the Titanic with its original collection, we went to Titanic Belfast / Titanic Experience in the morning. Titanic Belfast had an exhibition system that used almost all the new-fashioned display techniques to make the visitor feel like they are inside of the Titanic. It extended over nine interactive galleries with multiple dimensions to the exhibition.

The galleries were respectively:

  • Boomtown Belfast, where the visitor explores Belfast’s booming industries and why the Titanic was built in this city;
  • The Shipyard, which gave an opportunity to explore the blueprints of Titanic as an interactive floor – it was the first time for all of us to have this experience in a museum;
  • The Launch, where the visitor felt transported to 12:13pm on 31st May 1911 to the site where Titanic was built, with documents like a ticket for the launch and a floor map;
  • The Fit-Out, in which the visitor discovers the cabins, the fabrics (with the experience of hands-on), the crockery, and a display of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd class cabins with a 3D-model animation;
  • The Maiden Voyage, where the visitor can see the Titanic’s route, which also has original newspapers and tickets of her first voyage;
  • The Sinking, which explores the moment she struck an iceberg, while playing survivors’ stories with the accompaniment of the world’s media;
  • The Aftermath, with a life-sized replica lifeboat, which has all the debates about the reason for her sinking. The interesting thing about this gallery is that it provides insights on how Titanic’s story might have developed, if she had not sunk, using the sister ships Olympic and Britannica’s adventures;
  • Myths & Reality, which shows to the visitor how the significance of the Titanic story has captured the world’s imagination through film;
  • And Titanic Beneath, the last gallery, which tells the discovery the Titanic under the sea using a theatre experience.

We discussed our thoughts about and our highlights from the Experience in the café after our visit, talking about the building and design, the interpretation and interactives. What effect (if any) does it have for a visit when there are no artefacts?

In the afternoon, we experienced Belfast’s ‘infamous’ jail: Crumlin Road Gaol. This place first opened its gates to prisoners in 1846 and for 150 years was fully operational prison until 1996. Today the building is surprisingly used for private events like weddings.

With our tour guide, who was expert with his topic, we talked about what life was like for those imprisoned in ‘The Crum’. We also saw what prison conditions were like throughout the Gaol’s history. And finally we visited the execution chamber and grave site, in which many of the executed men still remain. Using this type of original building as a museum impressed all of us. We spoke afterwards about the special events and Christmas programmes taking place in the building: of course these will bring important revenue, but do they reduce the impact of the building and its components?

Welcome Meeting 1
After this intensive day of experiences, we attended the Welcome Reception of the Museums Association Conference 2018 at Belfast City Hall. We met new people and networked, talking about what we do and why we are here in Belfast. Thus we could directly reach people from UK museums and found curators in accordance with our interest. So now its time to experience the Museums Association Conference & Exhibition 2018, which is the the biggest event of its kind in Europe for museum and heritage professionals.