A blockbuster exhibition is ready for takeover at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, N.C.!

James Cameron: Challenging the Deep is a major, immersive exhibition that explores the legendary filmmaker's extensive career as a deep-sea explorer and his history-making expeditions. Open Oct. 15 through May 7, 2023, this is just the second time the exhibit has been on display in the U.S.

Challenging the Deep

Cameron—the writer, producer and co-editor of the 1997 film "Titanic"—was tapped for that role for good reason.

Aside from his career already built on the success of movies like "The Terminator," "Rambo: First Blood Part II" and "Aliens," Cameron had produced "The Abyss," a 1989 pioneering underwater film that involved the recovery of a sunken American submarine and a story that Cameron had been working on since he was a teenager.

Filming of "The Abyss" presented unique logistical hurdles that Cameron solved in inventive ways—Cameron patented a new underway camera dolly, designed new underwater helmets with face lighting and microphones and even earned an Academy Award for lighting the underwater set with 1,200-watt halide SeaPar lamps.

Challenging the Deep

Challenging the Deep includes the technical innovations Cameron developed to make "The Abyss," including the diving helmet Cameron wore during the shoot alongside other artifacts from the classic science-fiction feature film. Visitors can also see models, props and costumes from "Titanic," including the iconic Heart of the Ocean necklace, Jack’s sketches (which were drawn by Cameron himself) and a 2-ton, 18-foot-long model of the Titanic bow section as it sits on the ocean floor (located in the museum's lobby).

Challenging the Deep

In all, Cameron's passion for ocean exploration resulted in an incredible 33 dives to the wreckage of the Titanic, ultimately exploring 65% of the ship's interior—first-class cabins, dining rooms, the engine room and more.

But Cameron's passion for deep dives goes beyond—and deeper—than the Titanic. His expeditions have acted as catalysts for innovation, archaeological and scientific discovery and more. 

Challenging the Deep

In 2002, Cameron and a crew dove 15,715 feet down to the wreckage of German World War II battleship Bismark, where they made discoveries that brought new light to historical events, and in 2012 Cameron became just the third person to dive to the deepest point on earth—the 35,755-foot-deep Mariana Trench off the coast of Guam—and the first person to do it all alone with his Deepsea Challenger expedition.

A replica of the Deepsea Challenger pilot sphere that Cameron spent nearly seven hours in during this dive is available for visitors to sit in at the exhibit; pictured below is one of the prototypes and Cameron's handwritten notes.

Challenging the Deep

This immersive exhibition takes you into a deep-ocean environment using cinema-scale projections and personal artifacts and specimens from Cameron's expeditions. Challenging the Deep is a ticketed exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Ticket prices are $16 for adults, $12 for children ages 3-12 and $14 for seniors, students and military.

Showing alongside the exhibit is "James Cameron's Deepsea Challenge 3D," a 40-minute film that chronicle's Cameron's solo dive to the Mariana Trench and includes spectacular 3D effects inside the museum's WRAL 3D Theater. Purchasing a combination ticket to see the exhibit and movie is an additional $3

Challenging the Deep runs Oct. 15, 2022, through May 7, 2023. The North Carolina Museum of Sciences—one of the state's most-visited tourist attractions—is open Tues.-Sun, 10am-5pm. The museum is located at 11 W. Jones St., Raleigh, NC 27601.


Photos one, two and four by Andrew Frolows, courtesy of the Australian National Maritime Museum

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