Experience the RMS Titanic at COSI

You’ll be the king of the world once you buy your boarding pass and climb aboard.
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Photograph courtesy COSI

In 2024, the hot ticket is Taylor Swift’s Eras tour (and you best believe I have a ticket to the November show in Indianapolis—Happy 40th to me!), but in 1997 when I was 13, the hot ticket cost just $6 and involved a doomed love affair between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet aboard the equally doomed Titanic. The movie and its titular ship imprinted on me. (I’m sure due to the fact that, like any other teenage girl, I saw it approximately 14 times in the theater.)

Lady and Sir Marmalade with their crew.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

Back to 2024, and the Titanic (the ship, not the movie) continues to captivate; in our school district, there’s an entire unit devoted to the story of the vessel that met its fate on April 15, 1912, in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. Harvey, my history lover, was beyond stoked to study the RMS Titanic and his excitement resulted in the first annual McCosham Family Titanic-Off over Christmas break. (Lady and Sir Marmalade hosted the event; the publishing tycoons left their luggage at the dock, so they didn’t actually board the ship on April 10, 1912.)

All of this is to say that, when I (ahem) caught wind of an entire Titanic exhibit coming to the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, I knew it would be the perfect way to celebrate the end of a successful school year.

Running now through Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 2, 2024), TITANIC: The Artifact Exhibition is truly unlike any other exhibit I’ve attended. Really, it’s not just an exhibit; it’s a wholly immersive experience.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

And the experience begins before even stepping foot into the 10,000-square-foot exhibition gallery. Just like Titanic passengers, visitors to the COSI exhibit receive a boarding pass on arrival, making everyone feel like more of a passenger than spectator. This is just a sign of what’s to come.

There are 200 artifacts recovered from the wreck site, and it’s humbling to see these remains close up. Dishes, benches, clothing, and even pieces of the ship; of everything passengers brought aboard the Titanic—and the opulent furnishings and decor on the ship herself—these found objects tell a story far more compelling than any Hollywood director. (For reference,  more than 5,500 artifacts have been salvaged from the ship’s debris field.)

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

For my kids (and this Kate Winslet superfan), it was the full-scale recreations that really wowed. Walking through the ornate halls, peering into luxurious first-class cabins (and sparse crew quarters), seeing the boiler room up-close, and climbing the carpeted steps of the Grand Staircase—TITANIC: The Artifact Exhibition truly puts you there. (But luckily, not there there, because, well, we all know how that ended…)

Admittedly, a ticket to the COSI exhibit isn’t unlike the actual voyage. (In 1912, first-class tickets cost between $150 and $4,250 and third-class tickets between $15 and $40; today, those tickets would cost between $1,700 and $50,000 and $170 and $586, respectively.) Online tickets for nonmembers are $45 for guests 13+ and $40 for youth 2–12 (paying in person costs more), but I recommend splurging on bundled tickets that also include general admission to COSI. We spent an entire day there (I’ll share highlights from that trip in an upcoming article), and it was a wonderful reminder that, here in Cincinnati, we’ve a world-class museum just a quick trip up I-71.

We have a wide open summer before us, full of hope and possibility. Whether you’re into history, engineering, movies, or simply an elder millennial who found themselves swept away by the romance of Titanic back in 1997, TITANIC: The Artifact Exhibition is absolutely worth adding to your itinerary this summer.

TITANIC: The Artifact Exhibition, COSI, 333 W. Broad St., Columbus

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