Titanic began its existence (on March 31, 1909) in the 185 acre Harland & Wolff shipyard on Queen’s Island in Belfast, with construction of the massive ship being completed (and its being launched) on May 31, 1911. The shipyard’s very large slipways and graving docks (i.e. dry docks) where the two largest luxury ships of their time - Titanic and Olympic -were constructed, was dominated by the massive H & W cranes, named “Samson” and “Goliath” ( they are still watching over the site).
Following many years of use, the shipyard fell onto hard times when the shipbuilding industry began to decline. Once the H & W yards oficially ceased operations, developers quickly came up with plans to use the site for housing , hotels, entertainment venues, as well as a maritime heritage museum.
The eventual design of the museum was to reflect ships’ prows, with its main prow pointing down the middle of Titanic’s and Olympic’s slipway to the River Lagan. In a quirk of irony, locals felt the building resembled the shape of an iceberg and took to calling it “The Iceberg.” Officially opened in 2012 ( on the hundredth anniversary of Titanic’s maiden and fateful voyage) the museum is dedicated as a monument to Belfast’s maritime history.
The museum’s nine exhibit halls depict the many aspects of Belfast’s seafaring community, as well as the story of Titanic and its sinking. On the building’s top floor is a 750 seat conference center (the largest in the city), which includes a reproduction of Titanic’s original Grand Staircase. Close to one million visitors per year enjoy everything this building has to offer.