Exhibitions and the Titanic

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Recently Anthony Lydekker drew attention to some exhibitions that might pass you by unless you were avid readers of the arts pages. Another opens tomorrow at the O2 Bubble in London. This time it is connected to the magic name of Titanic, the ship that exerts a fascination on, seemingly, the entire world. Such fame has meant that there are 6 exhibitions about the Titanic running simultaneously in the UK, Canada, USA and Australia. You would have thought they would be onto a winner here but the profits for the organisers don’t seem to be great. And that’s something we, as visitors, don’t always appreciate how expensive these things can be.
The O2 exhibition has 300 artifacts recovered from the ship. The other five exhibitions probably have a similar number and all are run by an American group called Premier Exhibitions. They also hold the rights to the ship and its wreck site. You might have thought that this would give it money to burn given the appetite for all things Titanic. After all 22 million people around the world have seen this travelling exhibition But no, for the last 3 months for which it has reported it made a loss. It goes to show how expensive exhibitions can be.
In fairness though, the company goes back to the wreck to retrieve more objects. The difficulties in retrieving items must be expensive so maybe it relies on its other exhibitions, particularly one called Bodies where a lot of its revenue comes from.

So when the Arts Council over here announces fairly aggressive cutbacks you might appreciate how tight things must be for some organisations which don’t have such high profile names as the Titanic to entice visitors into their museums and galleries. I am not saying that the Arts Council should or should not fund exhibitions and galleries, merely pointing out how expensive it is. It could be that we have fewer exhibitions to go to next year. It could be that we are asked to pay more to visit them. At the same time, I hope they resist any urge to just put on crowd pleasers or safe options.

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