The Kentucky Gateway Museum Center is welcoming guests aboard a new exhibit called The Age of the Ocean Liner.
The exhibit features a collection of replica ocean liners assembled by Ashley and Barbara Ford of Cincinnati. The ships were donated to the museum and will be on display until Dec. 31.
The ships are aligned so that guests can walk around the room to see the progression of vessels throughout the years from the need for fast delivery to the cruise ships we have today, according to Special Exhibit Curator Marla Toncray.
It begins with the Britannia, which was built in 1840. The ship was commissioned by Nova Scotia businessman Samuel Cunard to carry royal mail to Halifax from Boston. The exhibit ends with a 1970s Disney Cruise line ship.
“The whole premise is that this is the age of the ocean liner of getting people from Europe to America, across the North Atlantic, as quickly as they can,” she said. “A lot of these started as mail packet services for the British empire. So, it was about getting there as quickly as possible.”
Toncray said today, the ships are more about pleasure cruises.
“You’re going to a destination, but you’re taking a more leisurely time frame,” she said.
Some of the other ships in the exhibit include the Great Eastern Ship, two City of Paris ships, Mauretania, Olympic, Empress of Asia, Windsor Castle, Canberra, Carmania, Queen Elizabeth 2 and the Titanic.
In addition to the ships, there are three scenes set up in the room, including a 1910s ship deck, a stateroom that would have been used by Americans who were traveling to Europe and a more modern scene of a couple playing cards on a ship.
“The vignettes are there to give a look at the time period and what the ship would have looked like then,” Toncray said. “The modern couple playing cards is from the late 1960s to early 1970s. It was themed to go with the Canberra, which was featured in the James Bond movie, ‘Diamonds are Forever.’ We’ve set this up, so that not only do the ships progress from the 1800s, but the vignettes progress to modern day as well.”
There are also replicas of China used on the Titanic and the Olympic, which were sister ships.
“The China replicas on display show you what everyone would have from the captains table to the lower class decks,” she said.
There are also two television sets in the room. One shows footage filmed by Ashley Ford while he was aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 ship. The other television shows older footage of ocean liners throughout the years.
According to Toncray, Ashley Ford will be at the museum on certain Tuesdays and Saturdays. Guests are able to visit and talk to him about the collection.
Toncray said the exhibit is all about showing how ocean liners have progressed over the years.
Outside of the exhibit hall are two handouts about the exhibit that offers more information for guests to keep.
“It’s a great exhibit and we invite everyone to come aboard,” Toncray said.
The KYGMC is open Tuesday through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.