May 28, 2011
I was aboard on Friday, May 27, 2011 -- the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Queen Mary's maiden voyage from Southampton to NYC via Cherbourg, France. There were a good number of people about particularly for a week day. The operator has pulled together some new exhibits on the upper decks, perhaps in honor of this occasion, and for the upcoming tourist season. They are definitely a step in the right direction, although the objects assembled for display are still a work in progress.
Playroom Display - see also: http://www.sterling.rmplc.co.uk/visions/play.html
A portion of the area that includes some of the space where the 1st class, (called cabin class prewar), childrens' playroom was originally located and which has been closed and empty for a year been set up as a multi-class children's playroom display.
A variety of original playroom objects that were formerly displayed on Sun Deck and then, more recently, in the former music room on the port side of Promenade Deck are now on display here. (Note: The forward portion of this display room was originally a deck storage locker, however the larger aft end of the original playroom, where a sink was installed in recent years for use as a pastry outlet, has been walled off and separated from this display.)
Please see the quick photos.
Photo of the canvas in storage by Sean Hankins 2009. And another portion of the mural from the second class children's playroom as photographed by Stuart Kelly in 2007.
Initially I thought that a portion of the badly stored canvas from the second class playroom was salvaged and mounted for exhibit. But a review of photos taken by Stuart Kelly in 2007 shows that other canvases were available.
And as completed. This is the portion of the room not included in the display.
Interestly, most of the objects come from the third class playroom on B deck, which is now closed and used as a storage closet, although it is directly on the guided tour route. Perhaps in the future the walk in window used in the travel bureau display might serve as a convenient way of viewing a completely restored third class playroom.
(left) The third class playroom circa 1936. (right) A photo of the entrance to the third class playroom today. Courtesy of the RMS Queen Mary Facebook page. See: http://www.facebook.com/RMSQueenMary
As I was browsing the web I became aware of a similarly themed display that also just opened in the former imperial children's rooms of the Alexander Palace in Russia.
It is an interesting idea that might work at the Queen Mary.
So what is the adjacent area to the Playroom Display on the Queen Mary currently being used for? Adjacent is the decked over forward funnel hatch. As it stands today it is used for the Captain's Arcade, a video arcade that I have rarely seen in use.
Music Room Display - see also: http://www.sterling.rmplc.co.uk/visions/music.html
The Music Room was a first class facilty that was available for passengers, often entertainers and musicians, wishing to keep in practice during a crossing. Carol Marlow, formerly president of Cunard, suggested that Noel Coward or Cole Porter may have tinkled the ivories in this room as passengers. It was located on the starboard side of promenade deck. The space has also been reclaimed to suggest its original function.
Much of the paneling, one of three original etched glass windows survive as well as the three clerestory level ethched glass windows. (The center window at this level is still not illuminated and has no natural light.)
Photos of one of the etched glass window panels and frame removed from the Music Studio in the Long Beach conversion when a door was added to the portside enclosed promenade. This panel was sold several years ago on ebay and is now in private hands. The owner would consider donating it back to the Queen Mary if the ship is ever curated properly and the wall restored.
The inlaid parquet floor was apparently destroyed over the years. It was probably covered with a thick rug almost immediately to dampen the sound of the custom art case Steinway grand piano that originally occupied most of this room.
An original Queen Mary microphone and music stand has been returned to the room as have other furnishings, such as the small upright piano, but they are from elsewhere on the ship. Furnishings more closely matching the originals, are currently being sought.
Travel Bureau Display - see also: http://www.sterling.rmplc.co.uk/visions/travelbureau.html
The first class travel bureau was significantly restored to its postwar state in the mid-1990's but has not been open to the public for viewing. It is now a fine display, particularly because the postwar paneling, etched glass windows and wall-sized map are intact. The furnishings are either from this room or are very close examples. The exhibits team has also assembled a nice display of ephemera that suggests its prior use. A walk-in glass wall allows visitors to enter the room much as passengers did. I overheard a visitor saying that "it really makes you feel that you are on a working ship."
A special thanks for the efforts of Mr. John Thomas, the Queen Mary's historical consultant, Ms. Jacki Fanzo, the attraction manager, and Mr. George Gonzoles, the head of the Engineering Department of the Queen Mary, and all of those involved for making these displays happen.