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'Titanic' exhibit logs gigantic total: 830,019 visitors

Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 5, 1998

ST. PETERSBURG -- Even the numbers were titanic.

More than 830,000 people passed through Titanic: The Exhibition during its six-month run at Florida International Museum, easily setting a new attendance record.

According to museum officials, who made a presentation to the City Council on Thursday, the people who visited Titanic had an economic impact on Pinellas County of nearly $125-million.

And the museum was able to gather a bit of that economic windfall for itself: Museum board chairman Rick Baker said the museum was able to salt away some $2-million in net revenue -- what it took in after all expenses -- by the show's end.

That stands in contrast to a year ago, when the museum's first three shows had left it with debts totaling $12-million. That debt was eventually paid off, most of it by museum benefactor John Galbraith, but the museum remained on uncertain financial ground until Titanic's big success.

"This is one of the greatest museum exhibition success stories in the history of the United States," Baker told the council members.

On Titanic's last Saturday this past weekend, officials pulled out all the stops to boost attendance -- and it worked. A total of 9,788 people passed through the museum's galleries, a one-day record.

Not since a Monet exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago drew nearly 965,000 people in 1995 has a museum drawn the number of people who came to St. Petersburg to see the Titanic show, museum officials said.

For the record, a total of 830,019 people attended Titanic: The Exhibition during its stay in St. Petersburg.

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