The National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth is preparing to launch its major new exhibition, Titanic Stories, which will examine the stories of the liner's momentous sinking on April 15, 1912, re-appraising many of the myths, controversies and assumptions that still linger around one of the most well-known historic events of the 20th century.

Working in collaboration with private collectors from overseas and national museums in the UK, Titanic Stories presents rare and never-seen-before objects and items, as well as retelling the personal stories of many of the survivors, victims and descendants of the Titanic disaster, including those from Cornwall.

Focusing on the remarkably rapid commercialisation of the disaster, the exhibition will also offer an in-depth exploration of the tragic event’s quick rise in status to one of the most globally talked about and commodified events in history, from how the news initially broke and was reported by international media (a subject of early ‘fake news’ stories), to the first souvenir postcards produced days after the sinking, the books written and film adaptations made within weeks, and the commemorative music and memorials, as well as more contemporary ephemera and artefacts following the wreck’s discovery in September 1985.

International cinema adaptations of the Titanic story will be explored, from a Nazi propaganda film, to the award-winning A Night to Remember, each represented in the exhibition by their original film posters, production stills and more. Iconic items from James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster will also feature, including one of Kate Winslet’s celebrated costumes and other props and pieces from the epic production.

Alongside documentary and personal photographs, letters, newspaper cuttings, compelling items such as a handkerchief waved from a lifeboat and a first-class passenger list found in the pocket of a victim, will be on display.

In addition to the many historic objects, the museum will also commission a number of large-scale new installation pieces which will go on display in its galleries, including an exact, life-size replica of Lifeboat 13, made by specialist boat builders in Falmouth (currently being constructed, in a workshop gallery in the museum, on public view) as well as working with a Cornish-based artist to create a visually-stunning representation of the iceberg suspended over the lifeboat. Created in partnership with members of the local community, the sculpture will be formed from 2,208 monkey’s fist knots, each representing a survivor or victim of the tragedy.

Guest co-curator Eric Kentley said: “Curator Claes-Göran Wetterholm and I met on the 1994 expedition to the Titanic wreck site, retrieving artefacts from the seabed, two and a half miles underwater. What fascinates us both is how the memory of this ship – and this ship alone – has become so engrained in our culture, how myths have been built around it, and how each generation retells the story.

"Our exhibition examines how, through a combination of commerce and myth-making, a tragedy was cleverly transformed into a triumph."

Museum director, Richard Doughty, added: "The National Maritime Museum Cornwall is best known for its collection of small boats, so why are we telling a story about what was in 1912 the world’s largest ship? It’s because everything we know, or think we know, comes from the 706 people who left the ship in the lifeboats.

"Titanic Stories is a small boat story. Following on from our previous exhibitions such as Viking Voyagers, and Captain Bligh we take a globally important story, and explore the Cornwall context, in this case the Cornish passengers and crew, and we continue to grow our reputation as a museum that brings ancient artefacts from national and international collections, the like of which have never been seen in Cornwall and rarely seen outside of London and the UK’s other metropolitan centres before.”