For our Deep Oceans exhibition, Angus Adameitis and our prep team are building a full scale replica of Otis Barton and William Bebee's Bathysphere.
Back in the early 1930s, the Bathysphere was the first deep-sea vessel to take man to the depths of the sea, a massive half a mile down.
The original sphere is 1400mm diameter and 40mm thick in cast iron. The explorers Barton and Bebee had to enter by crawling through a tiny 38cm diameter manhole, which would have been a tight squeeze to get in and out of.
Once both men were inside the vessel, the manhole was bolted shut and the only air supply they had for the journey down came from two oxygen cylinders.
Bebee was in charge of documenting what he could see through the 6 inch viewing porthole, while Barton looked after the communications back to the ship’s deck.
Deep Oceans will give you the opportunity to experience the inside of the bathysphere. You’ll be able to see the minimal equipment that was used and how claustrophobic it would have been for those two very brave and adventurous men.
As you can see below, we’ve made the sphere out of two polystyrene halves. We have then stuck the pieces together, added the external features to the object and sealed it with a polymer hard coat.
Currently I’m fitting out the inside of the Bathysphere with props of the equipment they used. I'm finding there's not much room to work inside there.
I keep imagining what it would be like to be bolted inside for four hours, half a mile beneath the surface, discovering new species no-one had even seen before...