Real Pirates Salem, a historical experience featuring an exhibition of real pirate treasure recovered from the shipwrecked Whydah – discovered by famed underwater archaeological explorer Barry Clifford – will open its doors on Saturday, April 9 at noon. The objects in the exhibit are from the world’s only fully authenticated pirate treasure ever discovered – including coins, jewelry, a cannon, and other weapons – retrieved from the wreck, and last touched by the hands of pirates more than 300 years ago.
“We are thrilled to bring Real Pirates to Salem. The experience revolves around real pirates, real treasure, and real discovery,” said Bill Golden, Director of Real Pirates Salem. “Salem is a magically unique destination, with so many sites of cultural significance. We are in good company in this vibrant, historic community.”
Salem, one of the oldest ports in the United States, is famous not only as Witch City, but also as a storied center of maritime history. Real Pirates Salem features the real story of Pirate Captain “Black Sam” Bellamy – one of the youngest, most successful pirates of all time, and Maria Hallett, the love of his life and legendary “Witch of Wellfleet.” The exhibit also introduces the crew of the Whydah and follows their journey as they searched for and acquired the largest pirate treasure ever amassed on the high seas and met their untimely fate in a violent storm off the coast of Cape Cod and on the gallows of Charlestown, Massachusetts.
“I’m excited about the addition of Real Pirates Salem to the destination. The museum combines stories and artifacts to offer visitors a new opportunity to dive into the pirate chapter of New England’s maritime history,” said Kate Fox, Executive Director of Destination Salem. “In addition, the museum will be a critical part to the revitalization of Derby Street, where new businesses, green space, and the harbor walk provide a vibrant neighborhood for residents and visitors to explore and enjoy.”
The exhibit features a Discovery Lab where visitors can dive into the preservation process of authentic Whydah artifacts. The Lab includes real concretions – pieces of the ship and its cargo – still encased in their underwater calcified “time capsules,” and dives further into underwater archaeology and the challenges of undersea exploration. In addition, the exhibit includes interactive hands-on activities for kids of all ages, including learning how to tie nautical knots, raising pirate flags, and touching real pirate treasure.
Interactive experiences also include the opportunity for visitors to picture themselves as a real pirate with the exhibit’s complimentary photo experience, touch real Whydah coins, and stop by the gift shop for a special keepsake to remember their visit.
Real Pirates Salem provides visitors with a complimentary audio tour narrated by Barry Clifford himself. Clifford will take visitors on a journey through the past, present, and into the future of the Whydah – as there is still much history left to be discovered.
About the Whydah
The Whydah was a slave ship that embarked on its first voyage from London to the slave trading port of Ouidah in West Africa, transporting more than 350 men, women, and children to the slave markets of the Caribbean. On the way back to England, Samuel Bellamy and his crew overtook the Whydah and its fortune in ill-gotten gains. Legend has it that Bellamy’s purpose in taking the ship up the east coast of North America was to rendezvous with Maria Hallett, and continue north with his fleet of five ships and 180 pirates to form a republic in Maine. On April 26, 1717, the Whydah was caught in a violent nor’easter and wrecked off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The Whydah was lost for almost three centuries until 1984, when the wreck was found off the coast of Cape Cod by underwater explorer Barry Clifford and his team. With the discovery of the ship’s bell in 1985 and a small brass placard in 2013, both inscribed with the ship’s name and maiden voyage date, the Whydah was established as the only fully authenticated Golden Age pirate shipwreck ever discovered.
Location, Hours & Admission
Real Pirates Salem is located on Charlotte Forten Park at 285 Derby Street on the historic waterfront of downtown Salem, within walking distance from world-renowned museums, amazing restaurants, hotels, parks, shops, attractions, and historical sites. Convenient parking is also available in Salem’s nearby downtown parking garage.
Real Pirates Salem is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Groups of 10 or more are welcome at special rates. While there is no age restriction for younger visitors, the exhibit is best suited for children ages 5 years or older.
Extended hours occur for the month of October and certain holidays. The venue is available for rental for special events and private parties.
For more information visit www.realpiratessalem.com
About Real Pirates of Salem
Real Pirates was established to tell the real story about pirates and how they established the first known democracy. Pirates lived in brotherhood based upon skill and merit, no relevance to race, color or ethnicity. The goal is also to inspire a generation of future explorers to follow their dreams and know that anything is possible.
About Salem, Massachusetts
Salem is a destination recognized around the world for its rich history, which includes the tragic Salem Witch Trials of 1692, the glorious maritime era that left its indelible mark on Salem through architecture, museums, and artifacts, and for its month-long celebration of Halloween. Today, approximately 1.8 million people visit Salem annually, generating nearly $140 million in tourism spending and supporting 1,000 jobs.
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