One of the most treasured Titanic artifacts, the violin of Bandmaster Wallace Hartley, will be on display for a limited engagement at each of the Titanic Museum Attractions in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. and Branson, Mo.
Titanic Museum Attractions has announced that it has secured worldwide rights to exhibit the Wallace Hartley Titanic Violin, which sold at auction for more than $1.7 million in October 2013 by the renowned British auction house Henry Aldridge & Son to an anonymous European collector.
After the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912, Hartley and his band performed on the deck of the ship while passengers lined up and boarded lifeboats. It is rumored that “Nearer, My God, To Thee” was the final hymn Hartley played on the violin before he and all seven band members perished alongside 1,500 passengers and crew.
“In my 20 years as an auctioneer, I can honestly say I don’t think any other article has made people show as much emotion as this one,” said auction house director Andrew Aldridge.
“RMS Titanic bandleader Wallace Hartley’s violin has become the iconic symbol of the Titanic saga. Found strapped to his body after the sinking, it was returned to his wife-to-be, only to be lost to the world until it resurfaced almost a century later. Now, for the first time since an unnamed owner took possession of the violin, visitors to the Titanic Museum Attractions will be able to experience for themselves, the overwhelming sense of emotion it evokes,” said Mary Kellogg-Joslyn, co-owner of the Titanic Attractions.
The violin underwent an extensive authentication process prior to auction, which confirmed it is the violin recovered with the remains of Wallace Hartley ten days after the Titanic sank. Its auction price was the highest ever paid for a Titanic artifact.
The Wallace Hartley Titanic Violin will be exhibited March 7-May 29, 2016 at the Titanic Museum Attraction in Branson, Mo., and June 5-August 14, 2016 at the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
In anticipation of record crowds, the attractions will offer a special VIP Tour each morning for a limited number of visitors, who will have uncrowded access to view the violin and take photos.