Joe Gilman

Member
Oct 12, 2014
2
0
31
Hi everyone,

Today I was told a story that I found hard to believe. I was enjoying a few drinks with a couple of friends and the conversation turned rather randomly to the Titanic, and before long we were discussing the Titanic Artefact Exhibition that came to the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry way back in 2004. Me and my friend were discussing how amazing that exhibition was, particularly to our then 11 year old minds.

However, he then went on to tell me something that I felt quite disgusted at. He said that his father had picked him up, enabling him to reach out and touch the bell from Titanic's crow's nest. Now, considering that I remember how the bell was mounted four foot behind a barrier, alongside numerous signs saying "Do Not Touch", as well as basic common sense - you would think that he and his father would know not to touch it!

I then proceeded to tell him how I felt about that - how it was not only incredibly disrespectful to those who lost their lives, but a kick in the teeth to all those who had given their time and effort in order to salvage and preserve such an immensely important piece of history.

He angrily responded by saying it was "his right to touch a piece of history".

I couldn't believe my ears.

I've never posted to this or any other forum before, so this is a new departure for me. However, I felt so strongly that I felt that I had to post this to see what you guys think.

Am I over-reacting? Or do you share my views?

I look forward to your responses!
 

Doug Criner

Member
Dec 2, 2009
447
68
133
USA
If it said "do not touch," then I guess people are obliged to follow that instruction. I don't think anybody has the "right" to touch it. But, the same might apply to the people that plucked it from the wreck for profit, personal fame, education, or whatever their motives. Personally, I'm not all that upset about your story.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
6,582
1,357
323
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
Hi Joe.

As an ancient member full of out-dated ideas about the responsibility we humans have to each other, your letter intrigues but does not surprise me. Lets examine the problem. (As I see it).

When someone places a notice for the public instructing them or warning them about something, common sense tells those of us with a modicum of that attribute that there is a reason behind the order or warning.

The problem with your friend started with his father. The gent in question should have found-out the reason for not touching then educated his son. That doesn't simply apply to the bell of Titanic but to all things in life that require preservation for posterity.
Big problem with modern parenting is that we have created a world where individuals of all ages increasingly live in self-created little 'bubbles' which preclude appreciation of all things dangerous, pleasing or beneficial to the rest to the human race. I believe it is known as one's own space? We have forgotten that every single thing we do in life, effects others in some way or other. Your friend's duty as a proper father, as it should be with all fathers, was to lead by good example. It obviously did not enter the man's mind that if everyone ignored that notice, eventually that unique artifact would be degraded beyond appreciation. He was thinking (or not) for that instant and probably impressing his son with his ability to let him taste the 'forbidden fruit'.

Jim C.
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
14
233
Hi Joe,

I'm guessing you must be around 21 now? I'm 24 so maybe we can think along a similar wavelength.

I tend to agree with Doug on this one, I wasn't all that upset by your story. Certainly your friend's father should have known better, but to be honest I think a lot of the time those "do not touch" and "keep this distance away" and "ask for staff assistance" type signs are there to prevent people from actually damaging items or stealing items. I know that's the case with a number of historical relics here in Australia, especially those which are fragile with age and wear. An 11 year old boy being allowed to get up close and personal with such an item of history isn't such a bad thing - if on the other hand he had proceeded to grab the bell and shake it around trying to make it ring and what not, then I for one would have had a far bigger problem with it, for the same reasons mentioned above.

On the whole, I don't think you should blame your friend too much for it. I'm assuming he's still your friend? Haha!

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Joe Gilman

Member
Oct 12, 2014
2
0
31
First of all, thanks for your replies - they were very interesting to read.

Reflecting on what the three of you have written, it has made me think a lot more about what my friend's story. I think that both Doug and Adam make a good point in that maybe I did over react slightly! However, like Jim - for me it was the attitude that he had about both his and his father's actions - when he was telling me the story he was really rather arrogant about it, like he was being rebellious or something.

Now, me and my friend have been inseparable since our first day of infant school, but we are very different individuals. He left school at 16 with no qualifications and is (I say this in the politest of terms!) rather lacking intellectually, whereas I've recently graduated from university with a degree in History. The only reason I say this is because it explains why we may have such different opinions historical artefacts. As Adam put it, being "up close and personal with such an item" is probably the best way for him to appreciate and make sense of it. On the other hand, I'm more than happy to stand for hours peering through a reinforced glass cabinet and be content with having an understanding of that artefact on a much deeper level.

For me, such an item is something to be respected and studied in a appropriate, none destructive way - not rubbing my mucky fingers all over it.

However, Doug does state something rather interesting by writing "the same might apply to the people who plucked it from the wreck" - you do have a point!


As far as me and my friend go we're meeting for a few pints on Friday night - its like it never happened!


Regards,

Joe
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
14
233
Hi Joe,

I think that's probably the difference right there - because you've got a degree in history, and I guess a personal interest in the Titanic as well, you hold objects such as the bell in far greater esteem than your friend would. He probably doesn't understand its significance and just sees it as another object.

Anyway if you've been mates for that long then you're probably pretty likely to have the odd spat and then forget that it ever happened - maybe you can help educate him against doing things like that in the future! ;-)

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Lena1985

Member
Jan 26, 2017
19
9
13
35
Scotland
Ive been told that i touched a piece of the Lusitania, i vaguely remember doing it when i was wee, i think there was a piece of it in a museum in Wales. I could be totally wrong or my dad was lying to me, lol, but i understand why youd be completely taken aback. As a kid you dont know the significance. Ive been to Vegas where the big piece resides and you can basically walk past it and touch it if you want but due to respect i never touched it. Like you said these pieces have been carefully preserved and you dont want anyones mucky hands all over it, as much as i wouldve liked to have jumped the roped and hugged that big piece of steel, common decency and my rule obiding nature told me not to, also i was scared id get chucked out and i was just in the exhibition lol.

Anyways, this thread is a few years old now but just thought id give my 2 cents. Im glad you never had a major falling out, the titanic can be a touchy subject for us if people dont completely understand the significance of it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Harland Duzen

Member
Jan 14, 2017
1,594
722
188
While I admit I would love to touch something Titanic related (with permission and wearing specialist gloves) , To lean across the barrier to touch it when clearly stated otherwise and with whatever's been on your hands enrages me!

ESPECIALLY one of the Titanic's most sacred and symbolic artefacts!

Joe Gilman, if you read this, feel proud you told off / stood up to someone who dared to claim they had the right to touch / inadvertently vandalise history!

Now if you excuse me, I must go off and read something Titanic related to calm my nerves....
 

Kyle Naber

Member
Oct 5, 2016
1,156
629
188
20
This may make me heartless, but I don't mind at all. It's a bell. Now if it were a personal artifact like clothing or jewelry, that would be a different story.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Harland Duzen

Member
Jan 14, 2017
1,594
722
188
When you put it like that, you make a good point. The bell (while symbolic) was just a item. It wasn't anything of particular value to anyone like a flute or a doll.
 
T

Talira Greycrest

Guest
If the sign says "Do not touch", then you do not touch. You may look (and possibly take photos) but you do not touch. On some occasions, even taking photos is banned. There's an exhibition at my local museum called the 'Mind and Body' gallery. Beside the entrance to this exhibition is a sign indicating that visitors aren't allowed to take photos as the exhibition displays real human anatomy. Our museum also plays host to travelling exhibitions. One particular exhibition, "A Day in Pompeii", came to the museum a few years ago. Whilst visitors were allowed to take photos of the artefacts, photographing the body casts wasn't allowed.
 
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
The famous wooden panel from the Olympic was touched by lots of people at the Southampton museum. When I saw it the first time I was allowed to feel around the detail with my hand. Sometimes a 'touching experience' is too hard to resist. Thankfully there were no signs the first time, but when I returned a few years later they wisely had moved the panel behind a sealed robe to discourage people from touching it.



olympicpanel.PNG



We had a Titanic exhibition at Belfast city hall a few years ago with items that were up for auction. Everything was behind protected glass and there were signs that said 'no photography'. This of course did not stop some people taking photos. I returned for another exhibition which included the violin that was claimed to have been played by band leader Wallace Hartley on the Titanic. There were no signs this time, but there were security men who advised people not to take photos.


.
 

Harland Duzen

Member
Jan 14, 2017
1,594
722
188
So that's where the Olympic Honor & Glory panel was! I went to Seacity in Southampton on the 3rd and I was so disappointed when I saw it was missing. That the main reason I went there!

ahem...Back To Topic!
 
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
It was kept inside the old maritime museum in Southampton which closed some years ago. I think it is now a brewery.



2009

southamptonmuseum.PNG



.
 

chrs burton

Member
Sep 11, 2016
47
7
38
If you allow people to touch things, then some of them will start breaking bits off as souvenirs - "give an inch take a mile" is in universal operation

Britains churches are full of stone effigys which have been "touched" over the years, until the details are worn almost away, to the extent that most people think that stone carving in the 1400s was at a junior school level.

A quick look into the unaccessible parts of many effigies will show this to be wrong.

Many of these effigies had metal details or jewel inlays, all of which have been taken.

Pretty much ALL medieval stone detail was painted.

The rights ( needs ) of succeedeing generations to see those artifacts, which bring into reality ( eg, sails from HMS Victory at Trafalgar or Nelson's uniform ) the varcity of historical survival obviously outweigh the advantages conveyed to a small child to touch something he/she doesn't understand.

There is however a gulf between academia and lots of ordinary people, which is seen as exclusion ( what else dooes exclusive mean ) and contemptuous of the uneducated- almost a class system issue.

Historians treat anciant manuscipts as basic raw material and touch them as a matter of course.

They used to have to wear gloves, but this has been changed in favour ofjust clean hands, to the consternation of many TV viewers . . . .

. . so a certain type of person is making a stand against exclusion - who are they to stop me from touching this.

Similar with spray on grafitti I suppose . . . .

I think a certain type of politicised authority is happy for this to happen.

You see it all over - I saw a group of children leaning over the barrier, past the "fragile do not touch" notices to touch the map of the English Channel, at Dover castle last year.

No interest in exclusivity there though - just lets I'll be clever and ingore the notice - the others following the leader.

Then there is the vandals mentality, which causes sensless window breaking on a massive scale

I'm not so sure there is an easy answer to people ignoring the notices; automatic cameras and a few fines would probably help but I don't see that happening any time soon . .
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
T

Talira Greycrest

Guest
That's a good point. People might start thinking they've got the right to take souvenirs if they're being allowed to touch museum exhibits. Also, having the exhibits being touched by hundreds of people can cause damage and the museum would have to pay lots of money to get the damaged exhibits repaired. Sometimes, museums might have what's called a 'touch table', where visitors are allowed to touch and have a closer look at certain things.
 
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
My cousin stayed on the Queen Mary floating hotel. He said everything that wasn't bolted down was stolen. (like adding a chain to the pens in the bank and post office). He said the staff on the Queen Mary actually have items specially ordered in so that customers (when they steal) will hopefully steal the reproduction items and not attempt to rip off the original fixtures and fittings of the actual ship. They should do a body search and make the customers sign a contract which states they will be prosecuted if original items from the ship have been taken without permission. A few years ago an American tourist was caught on ebay trying to sell stolen bricks from the Titanic shipyards that were taken from either the drawing office or pump house (forget which). If I recall rightly the seller was warned that if he did not return the bricks he would be prosecuted for theft and vandalism. Don't know if he did return them, or simply withdrew the sale and held onto them.


.
 

Scott Mills

Member
Jul 10, 2008
670
90
133
43
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
I did most of my graduate work at CSU Long Beach and then later UC Irvine. I also lived in San Diego for the vast majority of my life. Given this, I was lucky enough to visit Queen Mary many, many times. All I can tell you is that there isn't much in the way of fittings or artifacts that could be easily stolen. 99.999% of the furnishings and fittings of the hotel are not originals, and the parts of the ship where there are original artifacts either have the artifacts behind glass, or are themselves behind glass.

However, since the place is a hotel these days, it is remarkably easy to get on board. You are supposed to pay a museum entrance fee if you are not a hotel guest, but you can literally just get on the hotel elevator as if you were a guest and board the ship. As of 2014 (the last time I was on her) there was nobody at the top of the elevator checking tickets, or looking at people who are leaving.
 

PRR5406

Member
Jun 9, 2016
183
72
93
71
Maine
I held a piece of "Titanic's" gilded wood carving at a museum at which I spoke on the subject. At the time, there only a few pieces returned to land by the crews of "Mackay-Bennet" and "Minas". For me, it was like being permitted to touch one of Jesus's sandals. That being said, I was one privileged person for that occasion. The piece normally resides in safe seclusion.
I have absolutely no problem with a hull fragment being touched by everyone and anyone. It's essential that humans make that physical experience real.

A propeller of "Lusitania" is displayed outdoors. I'll touch it. It experienced a critical twenty minutes of WW1. I need that contact.
I wish the same could be done for "Titanic" and "Andrea Doria". "Titanics" would involve destruction of the stern, so I would say it's a no go. "Andra Doria's" hangs in the open ocean current. Bring them into port. One in Genoa, one in NYC.
 

Similar threads

Similar threads