Aaron Micallef makes no bones about it: Pirates were bad guys. “A lot of people like to mythologize pirates,” the Springs Preserve curator says. “They’re not all Johnny Depp.”
Still, their scallywag ways are fun to learn about, from gibbet cages that displayed tarred marauders to passing vessels, to lady pirates who disguised themselves as men, to the infamous Blackbeard. Shipwreck! Pirates & Treasure explores the spoils of Odyssey Marine Exploration, a Florida-based company that uncovers treasures from historic wrecks throughout the world. Among the 500-plus artifacts are china, glass bottles, gold coins and trinkets found in wrecks like Blue China, off the southeast coast of the U.S., and Tortugas in the Gulf of Mexico.
Hands-on experiences are central to the show, including the opportunity to recover coins using a robotic arm, or feel what a 75-mph hurricane is like in a wind tube. Unfortunately, the gibbet is off limits.
Shipwreck! Pirates & Treasure Through January 31; daily, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; $5-$19. Origen Museum at Springs Preserve, 702-822-7700.