The Austria: a tragedy in the Atlantic
On September 13 1858, the Austria, a passenger ship sailing from Hamburg to New York with more than five hundred emigrants on board and a few wealthier passengers, wrecked after a terrible fire off Newfoundland coast.
Ernest Renaud, captain of the Maurice, a merchant ship from Nantes caught sight of the blaze. He then assisted the survivors. Their testimonies, reported in the press all around the world made a considerable impression. Fifty years before the Titanic, this is one of the most tragic maritime disaster of the 19th century. Ernest Renaud then became for the press the perfect figure of the hero, a sailor demonstrating exemplary behaviour.
Nantes history museum suggested through this exhibition that we question this accident in every possible way.
The public played a role in this tour by following four witnesses of the disaster. They could question historical facts and maybe rewrite history.
Curator: Pierre Chotard (Nantes history museum)
Co-commissioner: Gaëlle David (Nantes history museum)
Scenography: Olivier Dupont Delestraint, assisted by Delphine Letrosne Poirier