The Titanic Museum is an imposing piece of architecture, at the heart of the Titanic Quarter. The Quarter itself is one of the world's largest urban-waterfront zones, covering 185 acres and funded by hundreds of investors. A commercial area, it includes docks, shops, and parks, as well as educational centers and a few residences. It is set along the River Lagan and the quays where it meets the Irish Sea. At the turn of the century, this was a center of activity, with a huge boost in Belfast's economy, partially due to the shipyards located there. This area produced thousands of jobs, employing people to make individual ship materials (woven rope, hemp cloth, etc) as well as laborers to build the colossal steamships, and professionals to staff them (doctors, engineers, sailors, stewardesses, etc). Today, the people of the Titanic Quarter aspire to continue to grow and enhance the area, hoping to attract more residents and tourists.
The Titanic Museum began its construction in 2009 and opened in 2012, on the year of the hundredth anniversary of the Titanic's ill-fated maiden voyage. It is located in the middle of the Titanic quarter, near where the ship itself was built. The building, with four symmetrical sides, reminds the viewer of the prow of the titanic itself. It is home to a large exhibit on the story of the Titanic, which tells the tale of the ship, starting with the beginning of shipbuilding in Belfast and ending with the discovery of the wreck.
While I could go on and on about the ship itself, I'm going to talk about the Titanic museum itself for the bulk of this post. This museum was simply amazing, especially in its use of technology. Guests are able to interact with touchscreens (that work better than any other exhibit touchscreens I've ever tried) to look at blueprints, files, photos, and flowcharts. These programs were all clean, well designed, and easy to use. They mixed the information with new technology in a very successful way.
All of this was seamlessly inserted into the more traditional side of the exhibit, which had large panels with information and photos, replicas of parts of the ship, artifacts and so on. I enjoyed the usage of both of these aspects of museums. This way, guests could choose their preferred speed and method of viewing the information, and switch from one to the other as they saw fit. The design aspects of the technological and non-technological aspects were very similar, so everything seemed to be cohesive parts of a whole, and the technology was fully integrated rather than being a curious parlor trick stuck into an informative exhibit, which seems to happen a lot in with other exhibits.
The Titanic Museum was a great place to visit. Not only did I learn a lot about the Titanic, I got to see one of the practical applications for what I am studying. So many of the technological parts of the exhibit had animation portions in them, it was rather exciting. This sort of animation is something that I will have the skills to create when I leave UCD, and seeing is out "in the real world" was pretty thrilling. As far as museums go, this was one of the most educational ones I've been to, where I got to learn both about the Titanic and about potential future jobs in my field of study.