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Underwater mementos

Kim Watson, a contract registrar with Premier Exhibitions, assembles a display of a leather bag salvaged from the wreckage of the Titanic. (Dean Hanson/Journal)
Kim Watson, a contract registrar with Premier Exhibitions, assembles a display of a leather bag salvaged from the wreckage of the Titanic. (Dean Hanson/Journal)
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Edgar Samuel Andrew, an Argentine student in England, didn’t plan to be a passenger on the Titanic. Andrew had booked passage on another ocean liner but there was a coal strike, so the liner gave its coal to the Titanic.

He had mailed a postcard expressing his disappointment in not seeing a female friend before the Titanic left Southampton, England, headed for New York City. He never saw his friend again.

“Samuel perished in the sinking,” said Theresa Nelson, director of corporate relations for Premier Exhibitions.

Premier owns the “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition,” which opens Saturday, March 23 at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science and runs through Oct. 27.

Andrew’s story, along with those of others on board the Titanic’s tragic maiden voyage, is told in the concluding Memorial gallery of the exhibit.

In the exhibit’s opening Construction gallery, there’s an unsigned, unwritten postcard attributed to Andrew. The postcard is one of 125 Titanic artifacts in the exhibit.

“Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition”
WHEN: Saturday, March 23 through Oct. 27. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
WHERE: New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, 1801 Mountain NW
HOW MUCH: $18 general public, $15 seniors, $11 children and $6 museum members in advance at www.nmnaturalhistory.org or at the door

In all, 5,500 artifacts have been recovered and conserved from the ship between 1987 and 2004. The Titanic famously sank after striking an iceberg 375 miles off the coast of Newfoundland in 1912.

The postcard, a purser’s tag and a dark leather bag are Titanic artifacts displayed together under glass in the exhibit’s opening gallery.

Museum executive director Charles Walter explained how the three artifacts have been able to survive underwater for decades.

“The way the leather was treated with oils kept the micro-organisms from attacking the organic materials in the bag,” Walter said.

Andrew’s postcard and the purser’s tag were recovered from another leather bag that also survived.

Alicia Borrego-Pierce, the museum’s deputy director, said “Titanic” is the largest traveling exhibit to stop at the museum in the 14 years she has been working there.

The exhibit’s six galleries also contain replicas of first- and third-class cabins where passengers stayed; the science behind icebergs and the dangers they have posed; a detailed model of the Titanic; and interactive elements.

Premier Exhibitions, Nelson said, is currently touring eight Titanic artifact exhibits, seven in the United States and one in China.

“The exhibits have been traveling worldwide for over 18 years and more than 25 million people have seen them,” she said.

“It’s a testament to the story of the Titanic. It still fascinates and inspires people. …

“Hollywood has told and retold the story because it is so fascinating. I believe that 100 years from now people will still be interested in the story of the Titanic,” Nelson added.

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