Ocean exhibition opens soon

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Finishing touches . . . Otago Museum exhibitions designer Shanaya Allan measures the light on a 1/20th scale replica of the Titanic, a centrepiece of the "James Cameron – Challenging the Deep" exhibition, which opens to the public on Sunday. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

After months of planning and preparation, the voyage to the bottom of the ocean can begin, with the “James Cameron – Challenging the Deep” exhibition set to open at Otago Museum on Sunday.

The Star visited the museum’s Special Exhibitions gallery this week for a sneak peek at the blockbuster exhibition, which showcases the equipment and technical expertise required to reach some of the deepest places on Earth, as well as the extraordinary film footage captured there.

Exhibits include a chance to see Cameron’s dives in the Deepsea Challengersubmersible, exploration of the wrecks of RMS Titanic and German World War 2 battleship Bismarck, and props and costumes from his award-winning film Titanic.

Visitors will also voyage with Cameron to the deepest-known point of the earth’s surface, descending more than 10,000 metres to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

“James Cameron – Challenging the Deep” was developed by the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney, in collaboration with the Avatar Alliance Foundation, and Dunedin is the first stop on a long-term international tour.

Otago Museum director Dr Ian Griffin said 2019 marked some “truly significant” explorer-related anniversaries, including 250 years since Captain James Cook’s first contact with tangata whenua, 50 years since the moon landing, and the museum’s own 150th anniversary.

“With this in mind, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to inspire a whole new generation of explorers by bringing this world-class exhibition to Dunedin,” Dr Griffin said.

The exhibition is supported by major partner NIWA, which presents its own exhibition in the nearby Beautiful Science Gallery, along with strategic partners the Otago Community Trust, Otago Daily Times, and Mediaworks.

The opening of the “James Cameron – Challenging the Deep” exhibition is being celebrated with a full weekend of events presented by Otago Museum and Dunedin City Council in partnership.

On Saturday afternoon, the Oceans in the Octagon event, featuring ocean-themed activities, music, food stalls and entertainment, will be held from 1pm to 4pm.

On Sunday, the “James Cameron – Challenging the Deep” exhibition will officially open to the public, with a full day of associated events planned at Otago Museum, both inside and on the museum reserve, activities for children and an oceans trail.

NIWA scientists will also be on hand in the Beautiful Science Gallery to give a series of short talks on fascinating underwater research.