Exhibition Highlights

Real Pirates tells the true story of the Whydah—a real pirate ship that sank off the coast of Cape Cod nearly 300 years ago—and showcases treasure chests of gold coins, jewelry, cannons, pistols, knives, and a life-size replica of the ship’s stern that visitors can board.

The exhibition provides visitors with an unprecedented glimpse into the unique economic, political, and social circumstances of the early 18th-century Caribbean.

The exhibition is highlighted by the compelling stories of the diverse people whose lives converged on the vessel before it sank in a fierce storm off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. on April 26, 1717. 

The Whydah was located by underwater explorer Barry Clifford in 1984 and is the first fully authenticated pirate ship discovered in U.S. waters. Clifford is still actively excavating the wreck site and continues to bring treasures to the surface every year.

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.

Throughout the immersive 10,000-square-foot exhibition, visitors will experience the perils and privileges of life during the “Golden Age of Piracy.”

Try your hand at raising a pirate flag, tying real sailors' knots, and looking through a telescope to find ships with treasure on board.

Want to prepare for your visit? Download some tips on how to talk like a pirate and more.

Other Information

  • Cell phones must be turned off.
  • No food, drink, or gum allowed. 
  • No photography.