Titanic’s tragic voyage relived at late Henri-Paul Nargeolet-conceived exhibition

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A replica of the Grand Staircase in the first-class section of the Titanic ocean liner on the opening day of the XXL Titanic exhibition at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles in Paris, on July 18, 2023. — AFP/File

To some people, the legendary Titanic symbolises opulence and innovation, boasting unrivalled luxury during its ill-fated maiden voyage in 1912. 

To others, it serves as a haunting reminder of human hubris, as it succumbed to an iceberg, claiming over 1,500 lives.

Many admire the ship’s enduring allure, its stories of heroism, and the mysteries that shroud its wreckage on the ocean floor. 

While some romanticise the Titanic’s tragic tale, others view it as a poignant lesson in the fragility of human endeavours on the grandest scale.

In a tribute to the Titanic, a major exhibition that opened in Paris a few months ago gathered quite a crowd of people waiting to explore the exhibition and experience the structure of the ill-fated ocean-liner.

The exhibition featured many objects on display brought up from the ship’s wreck by a French deep-sea explorer who died in the Titan submersible disaster in June.

A replicated model of the HMS Titanic liner displayed on the opening day of the XXL Titanic exhibition at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles in Paris on July 18, 2023. — AFP/File
A replicated model of the HMS Titanic liner displayed on the opening day of the XXL Titanic exhibition at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles in Paris on July 18, 2023. — AFP/File

According to the event’s producer Pascal Bernardin, the exhibition was “largely the result of the work, ingenuity and passion of Henri-Paul Nargeolet”, the late 77-year-old French explorer, nicknamed “Mr Titanic”, who had been due to open the event of the exhibition, AFP reported.

The display in the exhibition which was supposed to conclude last week on September 10 has now been extended to October 1st due to its immense success.

The exhibition opens with a model of the legendary ship that is more than four metres long.

Then, the exhibition takes visitors on a journey from the Titanic’s departure from England in 1912 to its sinking after an iceberg ruptured its hull. It also showcases the ship’s cabins, grand staircase, and engine room atmosphere.

A visitor walks past a replica of an iceberg on the opening day of the XXL Titanic exhibition at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles in Paris on July 18, 2023. — AFP/File
A visitor walks past a replica of an iceberg on the opening day of the XXL Titanic exhibition at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles in Paris on July 18, 2023. — AFP/File

Many of the 260 items on show, including navigational aids and hooks from the ship as well as watches and jewellery from its passengers, were brought out from the debris by Nargeolet.

A photograph shows the replica of a second-class room of the Titanic liner on the opening day of the XXL Titanic exhibition at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles in Paris on July 18, 2023. — AFP/File
A photograph shows the replica of a second-class room of the Titanic liner on the opening day of the XXL Titanic exhibition at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles in Paris on July 18, 2023. — AFP/File

US explorer Matthew Tulloch, who was present for the exhibition’s opening in July, assisted Nargeolet by diving four times to a depth of 4,000 metres and bringing back a number of artefacts.

“It should have been Paul-Henri speaking, he was supposed to be here for this exhibition. By seeing these objects, I hope that our contribution will serve to preserve history. It is a tribute to him,” he told Franceinfo.

A visitor discovers on the opening day the XXL Titanic exhibition at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles in Paris on July 18, 2023. — AFP/File
A visitor discovers on the opening day the XXL Titanic exhibition at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles in Paris on July 18, 2023. — AFP/File 

Nearly four kilometres underwater, off the coast of Newfoundland, the Titanic’s wreck was rediscovered in 1985 by a combined French-American expedition.

A visitor discovers on the opening day the XXL Titanic exhibition at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles in Paris on July 18, 2023. — AFP/File
A visitor discovers on the opening day the XXL Titanic exhibition at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles in Paris on July 18, 2023. — AFP/File

Between 1987 and 2010, Nargeolet oversaw or took part in six of the eight exploration missions to the wreck that brought more than 5,000 artefacts to the surface.

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