The story of the Titanic is inextricably linked with Southampton; it was the city from which the ship sailed and home to over a third of those who lost their lives in the tragedy. Our academics have helped to bring the story to life by contributing their expertise to exhibitions at Southampton's new SeaCity Museum.
The Museum's permanent exhibition tells the story of Southampton's crew on the Titanic and the impact of the disaster on families in the city. Alongside this, a special exhibition, called Titanic: The Legend, is examining perceptions and portrayals of the story and looking at how tragedy has become myth.
Professor Tony Kushner, Director of the University's Parkes Institute for the study of Jewish/non-Jewish relations, brought his expertise in migration to both exhibitions. "Both legally and in reality, the Titanic was an immigration ship and most of those on board were poor emigrants and refugees from across the world looking to make a new life in America," says Tony.
For Titanic: The Legend, film historian Professor Tim Bergfelder advised on the films that have immortalised the story over the last 100 years, from the very first effort, a silent movie produced in Germany, to James Cameron's blockbuster of the 1990s. Clips of these are shown as part of the exhibition.
Dr Bob Marsh, a physical oceanographer at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton, contributed information about a key element in the Titanic story - the iceberg. It probably broke off from one of the huge glaciers that cover Greenland, and was carried into the ship's path by an unusual excursion of ocean currents.
Bob says: "With new computer modelling techniques we can recreate the journeys icebergs make. While this may tell us just how unlucky Titanic was in 1912, it can also help to explain dramatic changes underway right now. Scientists are growing more certain that the ice covering Greenland is disappearing at an alarming rate because of climate change. This could have a big impact on regional sea levels and ocean salinity, and we are working to include icebergs in the computer models that are used to predict climate change."