"Uh oh," I thought. "We may have made a mistake."
My family was seated in a darkened theater of the "Real Pirates"
exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum. The people in front of us were dressed as pirates for the occasion, and we could barely see over their furry tricorner hats. Our toddler was getting antsy, writhing in our laps and beginning to whine. We had purchased a $65 family four-pack to see this exhibit, which only runs through May 27.
"Should we just bail right now?" my husband whispered.
But then the movie began. We were transported from Milwaukee’s serene shore to the choppy, terrifying waves of the Atlantic 300 years back. We were introduced to the Golden Age of Piracy aboard the Whydah slave ship from London that was captured and plundered by the English pirate Sam Bellamy and his crew. Swimming in riches, these pirates headed for Maine to reap the rewards of their crimes on land. What became of Sam Bellamy and his mateys? Adults will be fascinated by this pirate history lesson!
For children, perhaps the best part of the museum’s Real Pirates exhibit is the re-creation of the Whydah. It’s complete with live pirate actors who engage the children in playful, pirate-accented banter. Kids can learn to tie nautical knots, touch actual coins that were discovered aboard the ship, and see a display of recovered pirate’s treasure overflowing with thousands of period coins. They’ll also enjoy seeing cannons and learning about John King, the spunky 10-year-old pirate who helped Sam Bellamy find wealth and infamy.
Adults who don’t know much about pirates – which is most of us, right? – will find themselves riveted by the politics and culture of a pirate ship. In a world plagued with widespread slavery and racial injustice, pirate ships were multicultural islands of equality and democracy. After signing or stamping an oath of loyalty, every ship member had an equal say and an equal claim to whatever riches were claimed.
Pirate ships were popula…Read more...