Massive hype over Titanic begins - museums, exhibits, and events launched in honor of centenary

Belfast mural honoring the Titanic

Titanic frenzy has begun. Across the world, Titanic-themed museums, exhibits, and events are marking the centennial of the ship's sinking.

The Titanic Belfast complex is opening in April, and a museum has also opened in Southampton in England.

At Titanic: The Experience in Orlando, a "Jack and Rose look-alike contest" was held earlier this month to promote the characters in the 1997 hit movie, which is returning in 3-D format to theaters for the anniversary of the ship's sinking.

In Missouri, at Titanic Branson, every day an actress playing a shipboard maid reads a story of a survivor or victim in a 100-day webcast countdown to the anniversary.

"I go to another city, and it's, 'Oh my God, the Titanic exhibit is still there,'" Kevin Sandler, an associate professor of film and media studies at Arizona State University who has written about the Titanic and culture, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "They go on for years."

In Denver, one of the Titanic's most iconic figures is being resurrected. Janet Kalstrom, a retired information technology specialist and Titanic buff, is playing the unsinkable Molly Brown in a new exhibit at the Molly Brown House Museum, where the Browns once lived. In April, the 61-year old Kalstrom will embark from Southampton, England, on a re-enactment of the fatal cruise, planning to lead "fireside chats" as Molly and blogging about the experience along the way.

The sold-out cruise will hold more than 1,300 passengers, guest lecturers and authors.  On the evening of April 14, the Balmoral cruise ship will arrive at the spot where the Titnic sank 100 years ago. At 2:20 am on April 15, at the time the ship went down, a memorial service will be held.

Howard Owens, an accountant from Riverside, Colo., is one of the many people who can't help but be lured by the myth and memory of the Titanic.

The 56-year-old Owens and his wife, Terry, spent nearly $11,000 each for the 12-night crossing. The adventure will require him to close his office at the worst possible time for an accountant.

"A client of mine said, 'Why would you close at the middle of the tax season?' I said, 'I didn't pick the day the Titanic sank,' " Owens said. "I have to be there. I just have to."

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