Saturday, October 16, 2010

Real Pirates Exhibition

Capturing the Whydah

I have just been along to the National Geographic's Real Pirates exhibition which has just opened at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. This tells the story of the ex-slave ship the Whydah (named after the African slave port Ouidah) which was captured by the pirate Sam Bellamy, rebuilt as a fast pirate ship and took part in many actions before sinking in a storm off Cape Cod in 1717 loaded with 50 sacks of gold and silver.

Positive ID: The ship's bell

The wreck is the only pirate vessel whose identity has been confirmed 100% (principally by the dicovery of ship's bell which opens the multi-media exhibition).

Inside the Whydah

The exhibition contains over 200 relics (from 200,ooo recovered) from the wreck discovered in an ongoing series of dives since it was discovered by underwater explorer Barry Clifford in 1985.

Recreations of some of the real-life crew of the Whydah: including young John King

The most poignant are the sock, shoe and fibula of an 11 year old boy, almost certainly one John King who, when the ship he was on was captured by the pirates begged to join the crew. He was so inistent that they let him.

Recovered pistol and silk ribbon: wrapped around the butt to increase grip and tie the weapon to the belt

Exhibits include weapons, a leather cartridge box andfour recovered cannons and an impressive display of pirate coins which, the exhibition organisers claim, are part of the only genuine pirate treasure ever recovered. They even have a few pieces of coin you can touch so you can make your own direct link with real pirates of the Caribbean.
The recreation of the stern of the ship

The exhibition does well in treading the path between what interests children and what appeals to adults and is beautifully presented; including a full sized mock up of the exterior and interior of the stern of the ship itself.

The pirates capture a French ship

There are also some evocative paintings used as backdrops which will definitely make you want to start painting pirates again!

The Whydah

The exhibition will be touring around major museums in the USA for the next few years and is defintely worth catching

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