The Mahaffey Theater is turning over a portion of its second-floor ballroom and atrium into a five-month visiting exhibition of Titanic artifacts from the only company permitted by law to recover objects from the wreckage site.
Opening Saturday and running through March 3, the exhibition is coming from RMS Titanic Inc., the same company that maintains a large permanent exhibit in Las Vegas at the Luxor casino and has several touring Titanic exhibits.
Told through artifacts of the passengers or parts of the ship, such as a crookedly bent chandelier, the exhibition starts on the second floor of the Mahaffey, where visitors will receive a replicated boarding pass of an actual passenger (and as they exit they can check the memorial wall to see if their passenger survived the trip). They then begin their chronological journey of the Titanic, from the ship's construction to today's artifact recovery efforts.
St. Petersburg last had a tour of Titanic artifacts during a 1997 exhibition at the now-closed Florida International Museum. The exhibit drew more than 1 million visitors.
For the grand opening, Mayor Bill Foster and Mahaffey operator Bill Edwards will have a "christening" of the exhibit with a champagne bottle instead of a ribbon cutting on Saturday at 9:45 a.m. The exhibit officially opens at 10 a.m. at the Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg.