The Putnam remebers the Titanic

Gentle music hits the ear. Pictures can be seen from all angles. In one room, there is an iceberg. Memories of the Titanic abound at Titanic:  The Artifact Exhibition, on display at the Putnam Museum and Imax Theatre.
Leading the tour among the artifacts was Lowell Lytle, an actor who portrays Titanic Captain EJ Smith.
“I began giving these tours 13 years ago,” Lytle said. “My neighbor offered me the job because of my resemblance to the real Captain Smith.”
To help himself become the best tour guide possible, Lytle requested the unthinkable:  an underwater voyage to the site of the actual Titanic wreckage.
After being submerged under two and a half miles of water, Lytle found himself face-to-face with the wreckage of the Titanic.
“I spent six hours collecting artifacts,” he said. “I saw the crow’s nest and the bow from the infamous ‘king of the world’ scene in the ‘Titanic’ movie.”
Since his visit to the Titanic, Lytle has been able to speak honestly and emotionally as a tour guide for the Titanic exhibits. He is a wealth of information about each and every artifact that can be found within the exhibit. He is also an expert about the people who were personally affected by the Titanic tragedy.
“Eliza Millvina Dean was the last remaining survivor of the Titanic,” Lytle said as he neared a picture of Dean. “Her father felt the vibrations, put her in a sack, and handed her to her mother, who was waiting in a lifeboat.”
Lytle said that Dean’s father stepped back onto the sinking Titanic after handing his daughter to his wife.
Many of the artifacts at the exhibit were recovered because they were found in leather luggage. According to Lytle, leather is able to survive even after decades underwater.
Lytle said that students can benefit from visiting the Titanic exhibit because it demonstrates how the wealthy, poor, and people of all backgrounds can come together in times of tragedy.
“At this exhibit, you feel like you were on the Titanic,” he said. “You are around the real artifacts, and everyone has a personal relationship to them. It is like a Greek tragedy.”
Diane Koster, vice president of development for the Putnam, agreed that visiting the Titanic exhibit was the best history lesson a student could receive.
“Everyone has seen the ‘Titanic’ movie,” Koster said. “To see the actual pieces and hear the human stories can only help students to learn more about the Titanic.”
RMS Titanic, Inc., a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions, Inc., is the organization responsible for finding the artifacts for the Titanic exhibit. In fact, they are the only company legally allowed to recover items from the Titanic wreckage.
The artifacts recovered by RMS Titanic, Inc., have the ability to speak to everyone who comes in contact with the Titanic exhibit.
“If there is one lesson I’ve learned from giving these tours, it is that life is so short,” Lytle said. “I never let a day pass without telling my wife that I love her.”
The memorabilia that inspired Lytle can be seen at Titanic:  The Artifact Exhibition at the Putnam Museum and Imax Theatre in Davenport. The exhibit will be on display until June 26.


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