Baylor’s Mayborn Museum Reflects on Titanic Exhibit Success
- Baylor’s Mayborn Museum complex recently hosted “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition,” a blockbuster exhibit that set record attendance numbers for the museum. (Robert Rogers/Baylor University)
- Baylor’s Mayborn Museum complex recently hosted “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition,” a blockbuster exhibit that set record attendance numbers for the museum.
by Jessie Jilovec, student newswriter, Baylor University Media and Public Relations
WACO, Texas (Jan. 23, 2019) – Baylor’s Mayborn Museum complex hosted its first blockbuster exhibit, “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition,” which helped the museum set record attendance numbers and introduce thousands of new visitors to the natural science and cultural history museum.
The exhibit ran from June 2, 2018, through Jan. 6, 2019. During this time, more than 53,000 people attended the exhibit, and more than 122,000 people visited the museum, a 38-percent attendance increase for the museum compared to the previous year, said Rebecca Nall, assistant director of communication for the Mayborn Museum.
“This means that ‘Titanic’ brought tons of new attendance to the museum, which is amazing,” she said. “Every month we hosted ‘Titanic’ was the highest recorded attendance for that given month.”
For example, Nall said the museum saw 25,000 visitors in July 2018, which was its highest July attendance on record compared to 14 years of data. She said the museum had comparable attendance to similar markets that hosted the exhibit.
“Considering the much higher price point of this exhibit compared to museum admission, we are ecstatic with these figures,” she said. “We are excited that so many new people enjoyed the museum, and hopefully, they will see all we have to offer and come back.”
The Titanic exhibit is what the museum business calls a blockbuster, Nall said.
“These exhibits are traditionally higher in price, immersive in nature, drive large attendance and cause a splash in the community,” she said.
Immersive visitor experience
The Titanic exhibit holds a fascination for many people due to the man-versus-nature parable at a time when “man felt they had conquered nature,” and also considering that the tragedy could have been prevented, Nall said.
The museum’s exhibit was immersive – visitors received a boarding pass that represented a passenger on the Titanic so guests could place themselves in that time. Nall said this allowed guests to ask themselves, “What would I have done?” and “How would I have felt?”
Overall, Nall said the Titanic exhibit was a massive undertaking compared to other exhibits but well worth the extra effort. Ticket sales online were launched for the first time in museum history, and they moved the ticket desks to allow for more queue space.
The museum had to increase staffing during the exhibit, specifically over the Christmas holidays, to compensate for the record attendance numbers. Nall said the last week of the exhibit was the busiest week on museum record.
“Our traditional exhibit installation is between four and eight days,” she said. “The Titanic took 17. We had to inspect the artifacts and the temperature and humidity in the room twice a day.”
Building on success
Charlie Walter, Mayborn Museum director, said “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” was a fantastic experience for the Mayborn and hopes to build on the success.
“We were excited to have the opportunity to bring this global story to Waco,” Walter said. “We had record-breaking attendance and were able to introduce thousands of new visitors to the museum. We hope they stay engaged for the many fabulous exhibits and events in our future including our next exhibit, ‘Very Eric Carle.’”
Opening Jan. 26, visitors to this play-and-learn exhibit will step into the pages of Eric Carle’s colorful picture books. His classic “Very” series, all illustrated in his hand-painted tissue paper collage technique, introduces five special insects who take journeys of discovery. Each story is a testament to Eric Carle’s love of nature, his respect for the emotional lives of children, and his recurring themes of friendship, creativity and the power of imagination.
For more information, visit the Mayborn Museum website.
ABOUT THE MAYBORN MUSEUM COMPLEX AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
The Mayborn Museum Complex celebrates the natural science and cultural history of Central Texas. This 143,000-square-foot building on the Baylor University campus sparkles with numerous vibrant exhibits and compelling hands-on activities for the whole family to enjoy over and over again. For more information, visit www.baylor.edu/mayborn.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.