Meghan Seymour looked over an artifact during a preview of Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the Rialto Building on Wednesday. The show will open to the public today. GREG BRYAN / ARIZONA DAILY STAR

Nils Martin Ödahl set sail aboard the R.M.S Titanic with hopes of traveling to the U.S. to study botany.

Ödahl traveled alone and was an avid student of agriculture, having studied the subject before in Sweden and Denmark.

On April 14, 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank. Ödahl perished with the ship. As a male traveling in third class, the 23-year-old had little chance of survival.

Ödahl's story is one of many that can be experienced at Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, opening today at the Rialto Building.

The exhibit is making its debut in Tucson, and has traveled around the world with current exhibits running in Australia and Canada.

The exhibit resonates with the public, said Alexandra Klingelhofer, vice president of collections for Premier Exhibitions Inc.

"If you've ever heard of Titanic, if you've ever had an interest in Titanic, if you've ever seen the movie, you have to come see the exhibition," she said. "This is the real story, these are the real artifacts."

The tour includes 127 authentic artifacts recovered from the Titanic's grave site. Four of the artifacts, including two postcards, a handkerchief and a letter from the luggage of Howard Erwin, are making their debut at the Tucson show. Erwin missed the ship, but his luggage still made it on board.

The exhibit is designed to chronologically tell the story of the Titanic through the perspective of its passengers, from its construction to its discovery on the ocean floor. Visitors are given a boarding pass with the information of an actual passenger aboard the ship.

The exhibit includes replicas of a third-class cabin and a first-class cabin, set up across from each other to highlight the differences in class at the time, as well as examples of dinner menus from each class.

The exhibit also has an iceberg that visitors can press their hand against to show how cold the water was the night it sank. Freezing temperatures led many passengers and crew members to die of hypothermia.

The exhibit ends with a memorial, where visitors can see if the passenger on their boarding pass survived the sinking.

Expeditions to the Titanic's grave site will continue, and there are still questions about the Titanic that need answers, Klingelhofer said.

"It's just an honor to work with creating a legacy for this shipwreck," she said. "A legacy that will remember the people, the passengers, the crew, the events and how it continues to affect our lives today and in the future."

Rikki Mitchell is a University of Arizona journalism student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at