What is the Titanic Effect? A Survey of Visitors to the R.M.S. Titanic Exhibition while on Tour at the Tampa Museum of Science and Industry

By Margaret Zajonc Ostrenko.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A survey of 1000 visitors’ attitudes were analyzed to further understanding of factors contributing to the education and experience of visitors to the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition on tour in a southeastern science center. The survey questions in this empirical study were developed to accommodate current theory in the field of museum studies; using notable models of exhibit evaluation. Sensory Mood and Authentic Experience are two factors reported as crucial contributors to the educational experience of the visitor, while Personal Engagement was viewed as less significance. The visitor responses differ significantly by gender, with men assigning greater importance to the mood and authenticity of the educational experience than women. Yet, Mood, Authenticity and Engagement do not operate independently. Rather, these three factors work together interactively to achieve the “Titanic Effect.” For example, Titanic visitors would be affected if there were a lack of attention either to elements contributing to Sensory Moods, Authentic Experience, or Personal Engagement.

Keywords: Interpretation, Exhibit Design, Evaluation, Education, Artifact, Empirical Study, Survey

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.119-126. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 613.444KB).

Dr. Margaret Zajonc Ostrenko

Assistant Professor, Communication Management, School of Business, Saint Leo University, Dade City, FL, USA

Dr. Ostrenko’s doctoral study about learning conversations in a marine science center was the basis for an on-going NSF funded collaboration between the Tampa Museum of Science and University of California, Santa Cruz. She is a former director of the Viriginia Association of Museums. Dr. Ostrenko teaches courses in Intercultural Communication and Communication Theory at Saint Leo University School of Business. She has given workshops on visitor narratives with the Visitors Studies Conference, Association for Science & Technology and the National Communication Association. Her collaboration with Dr. Michela LaRocca spans the attraction industry and human relations in business.


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