The SeaCity Museum is a museum in Southampton, Hampshire, which opened on 10 April 2012 to mark the centenary of RMS Titanic's departure from the city. It is housed within a part of the Grade II* listed civic centre building which previously housed the magistrates' court and police station. The museum contains two permanent exhibitions, one dedicated to Southampton's connection with RMS Titanic, and the other to the city's role as gateway to the world. A third space for temporary exhibitions is housed in a purpose built pavilion extension to the civic centre.
There are three exhibitions at SeaCity, all of which were designed by Urban Salon. Two permanent exhibitions are housed in the former police station and magistrates' court. Gateway to the World examines Southampton's history, and its role as a hub for human migration. Exhibits include a one tonne, seven-metre long replica of RMS Queen Mary, rehoused from Southampton Maritime Museum. Both Southampton Maritime Museum and Southampton Museum of Archaeology closed permanently in September 2011 to allow their exhibits to be rehoused at SeaCity and Tudor House Museum. Southampton's Titanic Story explores the Titanic tragedy through the eyes of its crew, the majority of whom listed Southampton as their address. A preserved court room uses audiovisual elements to re-enact scenes from the British inquiry into the sinking and to explore its ramifications. The civic centre clock tower, approximately the height of a funnel on the Titanic can be viewed through a roof light as visitors enter the exhibition, giving them an impression of the scale of the ship. The story incorporates audio recordings given by the survivors and features interactive elements allowing visitors to steer the virtual ship and to stoke its engines. The pavilion plays host to temporary exhibitions. The first of which, to coincide with the Titanic centenary, is Titanic: The Legend which explores the public's enduring fascination with the ship through its portrayal in popular culture. The exhibition hosts screens playing back scenes from films such as 1912's In Nacht und Eis and 1997's Titanic. Titanic memorabilia collected include Steiff "mourning bears", beers from the Titanic Brewery, jigsaw puzzles and many other such kitsch that SeaCity scoured the internet to find.
Nowhere was the tragedy of the Titanic disaster more felt than in Southampton, where more than 500 households lost a family member. Visitors to the museum will discover how many people worked on board and the huge variety of jobs the crew carried out. The centre-piece of this gallery features a 1:25 scale, interactive model of the Titanic, showing the intricate layout of the vessel. Visitors will be able to experience the sights and sounds of Southampton in 1912, when it was home port to some 23 steamship companies including Royal Mail,Union Castle and American Lines. The transfer of White Star Line’s transatlantic express service from Liverpool to Southampton in 1907 had established Southampton as Britain’s premier passenger port. The town was bustling with activity and the local economy flourished with new shops, restaurants and businesses. The White Star Dock, later known as Ocean Dock, opened in 1911. It was from here, Berth 44, that the Titanic was to leave Southampton on 10 April 1912. Through powerful oral testimony from survivors, the Disaster Room describes the sequence of events from the time the ship struck the iceberg to its sinking, and the rescue of passengers by the Carpathia. A pocket watch found on the body of a steward is displayed – it shows the exact time it stopped. Also, there is a fascinating audio visual show for visitors to find out about the British Inquiry, which was held in London soon after the disaster.
For thousands of years people have arrived or left through Southampton, the Gateway city. Some travelled as traders, some settled here, others arrived seeking refuge. Some merely passed through on their way to fight wars or flee persecution. The city today has a vibrant and culturally diverse population with origins across the UK and world. Where did they come from? Why did they leave their homes? What new ideas, culture and languages did they bring with them? This gallery introduces visitors to people who have passed through Southampton: from Roman traders bringing new merchandise, Saxon settlers setting up homes bringing in new trades and skills to Hamwic, or Huguenot Protestants seeking refuge and Victorian industrialists with links across the British Empire. Throughout the gallery, visitors encounter these individuals as well as present day residents through historic artefacts, film, audio and art installations. Digital touch-screens and hands-on activities invite visitors to interact and engage in exhibits and share their Southampton stories. To help put the city into context, a large interactive map reveals the development of Southampton from small stone age settlements into the walled medieval town and through the ages to its present size.
Port Out, Southampton Home: 25 March 2016 – 4 June 2017, is the current temporary exhibition in the Pavilion. The title is a play on the alleged acronym for posh, 'port out, starboard home'; in fact the word was coined as Oxbridge slang. In their golden age from the 1920s to the 1950s, ocean liners were the lifeblood of Southampton, bringing employment, industry and glamour to the city. From the early days in the 1890s to modern day cruiseliners, this major exhibition tells the story of these great ships and evokes the romance of sea travel and life on board. The exhibition includes a wide range of rarely seen items from the city’s maritime collection, including ship models, posters, photographs and ephemera from the great liners such as menu cards and souvenirs. See furniture and other items from some of the famous ships that called Southampton home such as the Mauretania, Queen Mary and QE2, and learn about the people who travelled and worked the oceans aboard these iconic ships through letters, diaries and oral history interviews with passengers and crew. Visitors of all ages can have a go at activities such as deck quoits, try on a captain’s or steward’s uniform, or find out what was served for a meal in First Class on the Queen Mary.
People with mobility impairment can access all areas of the building via a lift from the ground floor. They recommend a maximum of 4 wheelchair users at one time on the first floor, due to fire regulations. Larger print literature is available. Hearing loops are located at reception, The Stores and The Galley (the cafe/restaurant). Buggy park and baby changing facilities are available. Adapted toilets are on the ground and first floors. Access for childrens’ pushchairs and buggies is possible in most areas except The Clock Tower. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : SeaCity Museum, Civic Centre, Havelock Road, Southampton SO14 7FY
Transport : Southampton Central (National Rail) then 5 minutes. Bus Routes : 1, Bluestar 4, Bluestar 6, Bluestar 8, Bluestar 9 and Bluestar 11 stop outside.
Opening Times : Daily 10:00 to 17:00
Tickets : Adults £8.50; Concessions £6.00; Children under 5 Free.
Tickets Pavilion Only : Adults £3.50; Concessions £2.50; Children under 5 Free.
Tel. : 023 8083 4536