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article imageMuseum exhibit explores heyday of Atlantic Ocean luxury liners

By Karen Graham     May 19, 2017 in Travel
The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts is partnering with London’s Victoria and Albert Museum to bring back the golden era of ocean travel with an exhibit that opens on Saturday, May 20. Visitors will be able to relive a time that is now gone
The golden age of the Atlantic Ocean luxury cruise is long gone, replaced by high-flying airplanes that whisk travelers to Europe and back again at speeds unheard of in the 1900s. But it was a magical era, a time when ocean liners were given names that bespoke their immense sizes, like Titanic, Olympic and Britannic.
The Peabody Essex Museum exhibit opening on Saturday will give visitors a chance to step back in time and perhaps rub shoulders with the Rothschild's or Rockefeller's. The exhibit is called “Ocean Liners: Glamor, Speed, and Style,” and it tells a story of our love of ocean travel and particularly, our love of getting from one place to another in the quickest way possible.
A contemporary illustration of the Cool Room in the Turkish Baths facility on the RMS Olympic
A contemporary illustration of the Cool Room in the Turkish Baths facility on the RMS Olympic
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However, not only was speed relevant in choosing an ocean liner for the grand trip across the Atlantic, attire was right up there at the top of the list. Ladies were decked out in floor-length gowns and adorned with their most precious jewelry, while the gentlemen were dressed to the nines in flared frock coats in the style of Prince Albert. Yes, opulence was important and showing it off, equally so.
The museum will have over 200 works from the 19th and 20th centuries on display that include textiles, furniture, models, photographs and fashion. Included will also be some artifacts from the "unsinkable" Titanic that broke apart after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic in 1912.
Display ad for Titanic s first but never made sailing from New York on 20 April 1912
Display ad for Titanic's first but never made sailing from New York on 20 April 1912
The New York Times, April 10, 1912, p. 11
History will record the captain ignored warnings about icebergs ahead and instead, steered the ship through the sea at speeds meant to impress his passengers. Visitors will see a framed advertisement for passage on the ill-fated ship, for second-and-third-class bunks available on the voyage from New York back to London.
Dining aboard an ocean liner was an experience in itself and a suitable environment to show off one's attire. Visitors will see menus from various cruise lines, like the lunch menu from the sunken Lusitania, a British ocean liner torpedoed by a German submarine in 1915. The menu included green turtle soup and hindquarter of lamb, served on fine china.
And no Atlantic cruise is complete without music from the 1920s and 1930s. Grammy-nominated bassist Greg Silva and recording and touring pianist Dave Ramsey. will entertain visitors with the music of The Great American Songbook as they peruse the exhibits.
Suitcase  Maker: Henry Likly  Type: Steamer Trunk  Style: Early 1900s  Region of Origin: Rochester  ...
Suitcase, Maker: Henry Likly, Type: Steamer Trunk, Style: Early 1900s, Region of Origin: Rochester, N.Y. Age: 1923
Zeitblick
You can also create your own art-Deco luggage stickers, a reminder of trips taken and places to see. The vintage wardrobe trunks and other luggage on display will be explained by restoration expert Churchill Barton of Brettun’s Village Trunk Shop in Lewiston, Maine. He will not only explain the history behind these artifacts but will demonstrate how they are restored.
The ocean liner exhibit not only tells a story of a bygone era, but it also tweaks the imagination said Richard Griffin, of Salem, Massachusetts, who was viewing the exhibit with his wife Cynthia. It’s transporting,” he said. “It is a feeling of being rather than doing, then as opposed to now, when people would just be and luxuriate instead of doing so many things.”
More about Peabody Essex Museum, Atlantic ocean, cruise liners, Early 1900s, evolution of cruise ships