Today marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, the White Star Line “Ship of Dreams” which still fascinates the world generations later. “It’s a story that refuses to go away,” explains Dr. James Delgado. “It’s an epic human story like Icarus falling where humanity is up against nature and fails. The stories of the passengers and crew that April 15, 1912 early morning reach through time.”
While names like James Cameron or Bob Ballard come to mind when discussing Titanic, there is another man who has shed much light on the cruise liner. Archeologist Dr. James Delgado is the chief scientist for excavation and National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration Director of Maritime Heritage. “You cannot study archeology without studying Titanic. We know everything about the ship’s details but we really only know about the rich and the lucky,” explains Delgado. “Seeing the ship firsthand is a professional high but you can never ignore the reality of what happened.”
So much has been learned about Titanic since its discovery in 1985. Delgado says that it is still amazing that it was found. “Titanic now covers 200 acres of the Atlantic Ocean floor, which is not impressive considering the ships size.” Thanks to Titanic’s condition, the ship holds many discoveries and mysteries, which are increasingly revealed with each dive. “The bulk of Titanic remained intact as it sank turning its interior into a time capsule,” says Delgado. “The lead based paint also helped preserve much of the wreck.”
The ship remains center to much controversy. Who should visit Titanic? Who should bring up and own its artifacts? How quickly is the ship deteriorating and are we contributing? “I’m fine with people visiting and bringing up artifacts from Titanic as long as it is done right. Artifacts should be for public use. When people see these items they connect,” explains Delgado. “As far as if we are destroying Titanic those claims are many times exaggerated. Titanic sits 2.5 miles down at the bottom of the Atlantic. It’s going to suffer damage but we do not need to worry about it disappearing. The real threat is as Bob Ballard put it ‘we could love Titanic too much.’ When should we stop going down is a question that only future generations can answer,” says Delgado.
Dr. Degado recently spoke at The Houston Museum of Natural Science in their Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition exhibit (read my review of the exhibit here.) “Titanic is a powerful thing to remember and I’m happy to see a world class museum like The Houston Museum of Natural Sciences bringing its story to Houstonians and visitors.”
Titanic and the story if its passengers and crew have always fascinated Delgado. “If we can study archeology that deep then we can study it any where,” says Delgado. “Titanic reconnects people to the human story in a powerful way and I’m glad that so many are remembering it 100 years later.”
How are you remembering Titanic today? If you are in the Houston area, visit Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at The Houston Museum of Natural Science. Click here for pricing and details. Remember the best way to save money at the museum at is to become a member. Learn how here.