A full-scale 3D printed replica of the bell that once rung out aboard the HMS Erebus — one of two ships that were part of Sir John Franklin's ill-fated 1845 attempt to find the Northwest Passage — will be the centrepiece of a new exhibition showcasing the expedition and its connection to Canadian history.

In September, the federal government announced that researchers had found HMS Erebus on the sea floor in an area that Inuit elders had long identified as the final resting place of at least one of Franklin's ships. It is believed that Franklin himself was aboard the Erebus. 

The other vessel, HMS Terror, has not been found. 

Much of HMS Erebus had rotted away on the ocean floor, but the brass bell has remained fully intact, facilitating the creation of the 3D printed model. 

PARKS CANADA - Recovery of the bell of the HMS Erebus

The detached ship's bell of HMS Erebus as found on the deck next to the windlass (a kind of winch positioned near the bow). Note the embossed 'broad arrow' British government property mark, and the embossed date 1845. (Parks Canada)

"It is a story that has reignited Canadians' passion for their own history," said Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who announced the launch of the exhibition this morning at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. 

Parks Canada, the agency that led the search for Franklin's ships, has partnered with the ROM and Canada's History Museum Network to bring the exhibit to seven museums nation-wide. The replica bell will be on display at the ROM throughout the holiday season, while the exhibit will hit the road in the spring. 

ROM officials did not specifically identify which other museums will be hosting the exhibit. 

​Aglukkaq this morning stressed the importance of Inuit testimony in helping researchers find HMS Erebus. Inuit oral traditions will also be a cornerstone of the exhibit, she said. 

ROM officials said that the cost to create the new exhibit, including the replica bell, and roll it out across Canada, is an estimated $1.5 million. About $500,000 has already been raised through private donations.