Real Pirates exhibit at Milw. Public Museum closes May 27th

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Milwaukee Public Museum’s current special exhibition, Real Pirates, will be weighing anchor and leaving port Monday, May 27th.

Real Pirates tells the true story of the crew aboard the Whydah, a real pirate ship that sank off the coast of Cape Cod nearly 300 years ago.

Visitors to Real Pirates will see artifacts from the Whydah, including pirate dress items, daily objects, weaponry, jewelry and treasures from all over the world, plus authentic coins that visitors can touch. One of the most striking artifacts on view is the ship’s bell, inscribed “Whydah Galley 1716,” which was used to authenticate the shipwreck site as that of the Whydah.

Real Pirates also relates the stories of members of the Whydah crew — actual people who ended up on the same pirate ship for very different reasons — such as John King, a pirate who was believed to be younger than 11 at the time of the shipwreck.

Through a dozen multimedia galleries visitors can learn about the reality of the slave trade in West Africa and the economic prosperity in the Caribbean in the early 18th century, the Whydah’s journey, the ship’s capture by the notorious “Black Sam” Bellamy, the violent storm that sank the ship, its discovery by Barry Clifford, and the recovery and conservation of its artifacts.

When the Whydah was located by underwater explorer Clifford in 1984, it became the first fully authenticated pirate ship to be discovered in American waters. Clifford is still actively excavating the wreck site and continues to bring treasures to the surface every year.