Thursday, July 28, 2011

New England Pirate Museum

We visited the New England Pirate Museum in Salem, Mass. last week. It was our first visit since the early 1990s.

The museum is a small-scale operation housed in a brick building with trompe l'oeil pirates climbing up the outside walls. Tours are given every half hour. They are conducted by a guide in a "pirate" costume consisting of a lace-up shirt, black pants, sash, and bandanna. The tours last 20-25 minutes. There is a small gift shop where tours start and end.

The museum is not bad for what it is. It is mainly a series of sets with manikins dressed to represent historic pirates. Some of the sets are ambitious. The biggest one has part of a ship, a tavern, a gallows, and other building fronts. The manikins run from hokey to horrifying but they are really launching points for the guides. The real tour consists of the guide telling about various New England pirates. Many of them were unsuccessful.

The focus on New England gives the museum a fresh feel. These are pirates with a local tie-in who are seldom discussed. Bellamy and the Whydah, Blackbeard, and Kidd all had New England connections and are also mentioned.

I didn't catch and outright errors, just a few over-simplifications so even hard-core historians should enjoy the tour.

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