An Ocean Beckons Where Newspapers Once Streamed

An Ocean Beckons Where Newspapers Once Streamed

Finally, visitors ascend a ramp into a two-story-high theater occupying the “Back Room,” where Press P-2 and Press P-36 ran.

(Despite the numbering convention, there were only nine presses in total. Each press was composed of eight units and each unit could produce eight pages, said Nick D’Andrea Jr., the director of production at The Times, which now prints in College Point, Queens.)

The Ocean Odyssey finale, presented on a spherical screen 42 feet in diameter, begins with anchovies feeding on krill. They are joined by thresher sharks, sea lions, marlins, dolphins and common murres. Sensing an impending threat, the anchovies form a great protective bait ball. I could tell you what happens next, but I would be killed.

Before returning to street level — and the inevitable retail experience — visitors pass through a digital center that includes what Ms. Truitt likened to a visual encyclopedia. Here, they can learn more about the creatures they have encountered in the galleries, some of which will be presented as holograms.

For the first time, they can also learn that the oceans are warming, sea levels are rising, waters are polluted, coral reefs are dying and fish stocks are being exhausted by commercial demand. The idea, Ms. Truitt said, was to get visitors emotionally invested before confronting them with stark realities.

“We are trying to entertain with substance,” she said. “What we’re showing is the healthy ocean as it should be — and as it still is in some places.”

Photo

Behind a new two-story auditorium for the Ocean Odyssey is one of the tracks — set into a steel floor — along which rolls of newsprint were once moved from laydown areas to reels under the pressroom. Credit David W. Dunlap/The New York Times

Behind the scenes, elements of the pressroom and reel room survive. Most noticeable are the steel floor tiles and the tracks along which rolls of newsprint were once shunted from laydown areas to the reels on which they were mounted.

Let’s now dispense with the obvious clichés: The Times is treading water. Sharks are circling The Times. The Times is out of its depth. That sort of thing.

Besides, as metaphors go, an ocean journey is preferable to the subject of the first exhibition mounted in the old pressroom, in 2009, by Discovery Times Square.

It was the Titanic.

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