In mid-December, Bobby Tanzilo wrote a great preview piece about "Real Pirates," the current temporary exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum. I returned yesterday with three kids in tow – ages 10, 10 and 9 – to get their perspective.
The show focuses on the Whydah, a real pirate ship that sunk in 1717 and remains at the bottom of the sea. In 1984, explorer Barry Clifford fulfilled a childhood dream and found the wreckage. He excavated many artifacts which are on display in the exhibit and he continues to return to the site to search for more.
The most fascinating aspect of the show for the kids, as the name reminds, is that these pirates were real. Prior, they believed pirates were fictitious characters in movies or cartoon people that appeared on lunchboxes, stickers and T-shirts.
Learning that pirates actually existed paved the way for the debunking of myths and stereotypes, which is always a good thing. They learned that most pirates didn't match the patch-eyed, stripey-shirted chaps with a parrot on their shoulder that they were familiar with.
They also became aware that it wasn't customary for pirates to bury their treasure or have their captives walk the plank.
The interactiveness of the exhibit was particularly appealing to them. They enjoyed tying knots, boarding the rocking recreation of the Whydah and playing dice atop a barrel with a couple of pirate actors hired to add another dimension to the exhibit.
For obvious reasons, they were also fascinated by the story of John King, a 9-year-old boy who was part of the crew – led by Captain Samuel Bellamy – and the youngest pirate on record.
King demanded to sail with Bellamy and said if he wasn't allowed he would kill himself or harm his mother.
The exhibit opens with a four-minute movie, which could be too dark for younger kids. There's also realistic lighting flashes and thunder in the theater at the end of the short film.
A recreation of a man getting his leg cut o…Read more...