How exhibitions are selected at the Mayborn Museum

A young boy looks at the "boarding pass" he received upon entrance to the "Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition." The pass features information about someone who lived through the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The Titanic exhibition will be on display June 2 at the Mayborn Museum. Photo Courtesy of Damon Eike

By JP Graham | Reporter

The traveling blockbuster exhibition Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition is scheduled to open June 2 at the Mayborn Museum. This is much to the delight of museum employees, whose jobs entail a variety of tasks that ensure the success of both traveling and permanent exhibitions.

Assistant director of communication for the Mayborn Museum, Rebecca Nall, said the Mayborn hosts two or three exhibits per year, and that she is one of the people in charge of selecting which exhibits will be featured. Nall said balancing the exhibits is the Mayborn’s primary focus, ensuring that all museum-goers are represented and satisfied.

“We’re not just a children’s museum or something for adults. We’re here for families and adults, and anyone who wants to come,” Nall said. “It really lends itself for us to be able to host almost any exhibition that we want, and so we try to provide a variety of experiences to the community.”

Premier Exhibitions, the company that owns the Titanic exhibit, has nine traveling and permanent versions of the Titanic exhibition worldwide. Nall said previous exhibits at the Mayborn have come from other museums and for-profit companies like Premier Exhibitions.

“There are museums that make exhibits to travel, and then there are for-profit companies that make exhibits to travel,” Nall said. “So there is definitely a variety out there, and we have rented from both museums and for-profit companies.”

Vice president of marketing, communications and venue operations for Premier Exhibitions, Katherine Seymour, said Premier Exhibitions provides complete assistance to the museums that are hosting their exhibitions.

“We not only design the exhibitions, but we establish the content for the exhibitions, we market the exhibitions. We’ll work directly with the museums to make sure they have everything they need in order to do the most well-rounded exhibition that they can do,” Seymour said.

Nall said the Titanic exhibit coming in June is unlike other exhibits at the Mayborn.

“Getting to bring Titanic to Waco and to this community is going to be an experience, and we are definitely glad to provide that,” Nall said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to see artifacts that were on the bottom of the ocean.”

Seymour said Premier Exhibitions has 5500 artifacts in their Titanic collection, which is usually located at their headquarters in Atlanta. Seymour said the company technically has exclusive rights to the wreck site of the Titanic.

“We are what’s called the salvor in possession of the wreck site of Titanic,” Seymour said. “That means we are the only entity that can go to the wreck site and recover artifacts from the wreck site of Titanic, so we go down, we recover them, we bring them up, and part of our covenance is that we tour them.”

Seymour said the Titanic exhibit is referred to as a blockbuster exhibit or theatrical exhibit because it focuses on the experiences of the passengers on the Titanic, as much as it focuses on the artifacts.

“When you go to “Titanic” — its themed rooms, full sets, theatrical lighting, music — you’re walking into an experience, versus some of the other touring exhibitions that maybe don’t come with as hefty of a price tag,” Seymour said. “This comes with a full slate of galleries that you walk through, and there’s a storyline to the exhibition.”

The Titanic exhibit is scheduled to open June 2 and will be on display until January 6. Tickets can be purchased on the Mayborn Museum website.