RMS Titanic

RMS Titanic. Our model of the ocean liner in a scale of 1:150 is installed in our section about „Safety at Sea on deck 6 of the museum.

RMS „Titanic“, arguably the most famous ship of all time, sank in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912, a disaster that claimed the lives of more than 1,500 people and sparked an unprecedented international media outcry. The story of the „Titanic“ is firmly etched in the memory of mankind. We can say from experience with our visitors that she is „the ship everyone knows“.

There is probably no other ship’s history that has been so intensively reappraised as that of the „Titanic“. Publications in all forms of media about this ship number in the thousands. In more than a century, every aspect, every detail of what happened that night has been studied. These include artistic, design, technical, biographical, social and many scientific points of view. The ship has inspired great works of fiction and, unfortunately, many conspiracy theories. The story of the „Titanic“ is not just history. It is a phenomenon of global popular culture that has endured for generations. It also arouses a great interest in maritime history among many people.

With this in mind, our curators were faced with the question of where to place our amazing 1:150 scale model of the „Titanic“ in our exhibition. The first, obvious idea was to integrate it into the passenger shipping department. The „Titanic“ was a product of competition between shipping companies for control of the important North Atlantic route. Her owner, the White Star Line, the also British Cunard Line and the German HAPAG, as well as the North German Lloyd, competed to carry businessmen or passengers of the higher circles between Europe and the United States, but also millions of European emigrants who hoped for a better life in America. 

But our curators decided to tell the story of the „Titanic“ from one point of view: Safety at sea. Here lies the legacy of the „Titanic“, which is still of utmost importance in the maritime world today. After the tragedy, much of what went wrong on the night of April 14-15, 1912, was examined. The list of failures and mistakes is long and indicated even then that the disaster could have been avoided. For this reason, in 1914, a large group of maritime authorities and shipping companies from 14 countries joined together to write down and sign the first International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). 

These regulations have been saving lives at sea ever since. The first SOLAS Convention was adopted in 1914, but many of the participating countries had to postpone its implementation because of the outbreak of World War I. Nevertheless, the need to carry lifeboats for all persons on board and to maintain 24-hour radio service were quickly implemented. Since then, there have been four other SOLAS conventions (1929, 1948, 1960 and 1974), which are still in force in their 1974 version with numerous amendments. To date, a total of 164 countries have signed the SOLAS Convention, meaning that the safety standards it sets forth are met in 99% of the world’s merchant fleet. While it is impossible to make seafaring completely safe, progress in this direction has been evident over the last century.