The interior of the eight-storey building provides 130,000 square feet of space. Its centrepiece is a series of interpretive galleries exploring aspects of the building, design, sinking and legacy of Titanic. On the top floor of the museum is Belfast’s largest conference and reception space, the Titanic Suite, a banqueting facility capable of seating 750 people. A reproduction of the original staircase on the Titanic, made famous by the James Cameron film Titanic in 1997, is located in this conference centre. The construction of the building cost £77 million with an additional £24 million spent on pre-planning and public realm enhancements.
Once inside, the visitors all go the same way, through the various galleries that first provide the background of Belfast the city at the time Titanic was constructed, followed by the various phases of the Titanic’s life, starting with the construction of the vessel, the launch, the fit-out, the maiden voyage, the sinking, and then the aftermath.
The first gallery recreates scenes from Belfast at the time of Titanic‘s construction in 1909–11. It illustrates the city’s major industries, including amazing statistics about linen. In 1825, James Kay of Preston invented a method of “wet spinning” which passed the flax through warm water and enabled a much finer yarn to be spun. By the late 1820s several “wet” spinning mills using water-power had been built in Ulster. By 1850 there were 62 mills in the region, employing 19,000 workers and by 1871 there were 78 mills with a workforce of 43,000. People flocked into Belfast to work in the new spinning mills. Belfast more than doubled in size between 1841 and 1871 and its population doubled again between 1871 and 1901. It’s easy to see why Belfast was known as ‘Linenopolis’ during this time. Visitors then head through an original set of gates from the Harland and Wolff shipyard into an interactive floor presenting Titanic‘s construction plans, along with original drawings and scale models of the ship.