April 5, 2012

A Day on the Titanic at The Henry Ford

Is your child or teen interested in the Titanic? If so, I highly recommend visiting
the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at The Henry Ford. The exhibit is
here now and runs through September 30, 2012.

Late last year, as my son and I were wandering the aisles of Michael's Crafts, we ran across a small wooden model of the Titanic that he wanted. He built it, and loved learning about it so much, that it inspired him to build his Cub Scout Pinewood Derby car into the Titanic! Learning about the fateful event even inspired him to "read" Tonight on the Titanic - And believe me when I say, that anything that encourages my second grader to read is definitely worth exploring! So when  heard that the Titanic exhibit was coming to The Henry Ford, I thought it might be a good experience to share with my son. Turns out he was SUPER excite about going too. So earlier today, my 8-year son, my husband and I toured the exhibit.

My son was inspired to create a Pinewod Derby Titanic "car"
this year as he learned about the famous ship!

What I Liked:

In 1998 I was lucky enough to tour Titanic: The Exhibition in Florida. My memories of the exhibition were of the many artifacts in glass cases and on the walls throughout. I suppose that's one of the reasons I actually had a point of reference for Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at The Henry Ford. I thought I knew what to expect, which is one of the reason's I took my son.

The exhibit at The Henry Ford was different though. It was less of an "exhibit" in the traditional sense, and more of an overall experience.

Today as we entered the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition we walked through a replica first class cabin hallway, peeked into crew quarters and a first-class stateroom and even got to gaze at the beautiful and opulent grand staircase. I was impressed too at the changes in lighting, music and overall atmosphere as we walked through the exhibit. We really did experience the Titanic from the building of the ship until the final fateful moments after hitting the ice burgh 100 years ago.

The Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at The Henry Ford was a wonderful educational
experience for my son. I'm glad I got to spend the day with him exploring!

It's quite poignant to be handed a boarding pass with an actual Titanic passengers name, and basic facts written upon it too. Then as you exit the exhibit you can see the names of those whom survived the sinking of the Titanic as well as the names of those that perished. The boarding passes that my son and I had were survivors, however the name my husband had, was of a male passenger whom placed his family onto the lifeboats and then went down with the ship.

Bfore we went, one of the things I found helpful in speaking to my child about the Titanic was a Titanic Exhibit teachers guide that I found online. It is mostly geared for elementary school students who are in third grade and up, however I was able to encourage my son to learn more by reading to him before we went. I also encouraged him complete the scavenger hunt that was listed in the guide, as well as a crossword puzzle and world search when we got home.  As a parent I also appreciated that the gift shop at the end of the exhibit included several children's books about the Titanic. We bought Zach the Titanic: The Disaster that Shocked the World! to read once we got home.

I also appreciated the "Michigan connection" at the end of the exhibit. Learn about three local families that experienced the Titanic and survived the sinking. It was nice to be able to tie that in with our visit!

Potential Drawbacks:

I would have liked to see two things during our visit to the Titanic Exhibit.

First, I would have preferred to have at least one photo op available outside of the exhibit. A generic set up where we could have stood with our "boarding passes" to smile for the camera. There are two opportunities once we got inside the exhibit to have photos taken, and then buy them for $8 each. But after spending all that money  would have liked a simple set up for a personal opportunity. I understand the need to keep photography out of the exhibit itself to optimize the personal experience for every guest, but would have liked a nice photo of our day and not have to pay additional for it.

For families and individuals, directly outside of the gift shop there is a large wall where you may want to consider taking a photo, however plan that individuals in the photo will be very small if you want an image of the full wall. Also getting there early in the day might make taking this picture easier due to general traffic in the museum.

One of the drawbacks to the exhibit is not having a photo op. This wall directly outside
of the Titanic exhibit at The Henry Ford does allow for a large scale photo though
so long as museum traffic isn't too bad!

The second improvement I would have liked to see, would have been to be able to purchase the audio tour passes when purchasing Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition tickets. Since the audio tour was part of the exhibit when I went through in 1998, I suspected it might be available in the exhibit now. I was told they were available when I asked at the entrance of the line. Once we were in line and at the entry though, I did not see where to purchase the audio tour. I did notice the audio tour booth upon exiting however, and if I had looked 30 some feet away from the entry, I would have seen the headsets for rental. Being able to purchase the audio tour when getting tickets or having signage directly in the entry would have been more helpful. My son is still having a tough time reading, so I felt a bit out of place reading the signage out loud when everyone else was in the exhibit. He might have gotten more out of the Titanic exhibit with the audio tour too.

Overall Experience:

I wanted to address a couple questions that several friends have asked me: "Would you have had more fun without your child?" and "Was it worth taking your son to the exhibit?" All I can say is that, the Titanic Exhibit would certainly have been different (and much less experience) without my son, however I thoroughly enjoy teaching hm about new things. My passion and love for history is something he is now beginning to experience and that make this mom very happy.

Overall I would recommend taking your kids and teens to the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at The Henry Ford it is a wonderful day for the while family!


Regular admission to both Titanic Exhibition and Henry Ford Museum are, adult (13-61) $27.00, youth (5-12) $22.50, senior (62+) $25.00 with children 4 and under receiving free admission. There is also a $5 parking fee. Henry Ford members can get Titanic Exhibition tickets for $10.

Helpful Tips:

  • Enter The Henry Ford at the Imax entry and hang your coat in the free coat-check area. If you don't leave your coat behind, be prepared to wear or carry it throughout your entire visit. This is especially helpful if you take children as parents always end up carrying their kids coats.
  • Use the restroom before getting into line at the Titanic exhibit, as there is no restroom inside.
  • Leave the stroller at home. In fact I'd recommend leaving kids under 8 at home.
  • If taking the kids, talk about what to expect before you arrive. I found the Titanic Exhibit teacher guide online. My son and I read parts of it and I had him take the "scavenger hunt" with him during the day.
  • Plan on spending a minimum of 1.5 hours in the exhibit.
  • Pay for the audio tour. Audio tour cost is $5 cash and is located outside of the exhibit near exit of the exhibit.
  • No food or drink is allowed inside the exhibit - Including gum.
  • No photography is allowed inside the exhibit, we were even encouraged to turn off our cellphones.
  • If you want to buy your child a small souvenir, expect to spend a minimum of $8.

Kids books about the Titanic:

National Geographic Readers: Titanic
Survivors -- The Night the Titanic Sank (Level 2: Beginning to Read Alone)
Titanic: The Story Lives On! (Penguin Young Readers, L4)
Titanic (Scholastic History Readers)
The Titanic: Lost and Found (Step-Into-Reading, Step 4)
Scholastic Reader Level 3: Remembering the Titanic
Tonight on the Titanic a Magic Tree House book
Titanic: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #17: Tonight on the Titanic


  1. Thanks so much for the detailed review! I really appreciate hearing about your experience and knowing what to expect. I'm impressed with that derby car! Amazing!

  2. For my birthday, my husband gave me a day at The Henry Ford Museum and of course timed it so I could visit The Titanic. It was over and above my expectations. The WOW factor certainly was the staircase and the opportunity to have our photos taken there. I didn't feel rushed or crowded as each tour was done on a schedule. I also liked the fact that we could roam around on our own and see what we wanted to see. As a birthday gift...this has to be right up there as a favorite. !