Museum of History Opens New Exhibit
Swashbuckling pirates, mystery shipwrecks and sunken treasures will stir the imagination of visitors to The Columbus Code, a new exhibit at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh.
This interactive exhibit invites adventurers to follow clues to discover the identity of a lost ship carrying a fortune in gold and historic objects.
Along the way, visitors will see shipwreck artifacts dating from 1560 to 1860 and learn about the Great Age of Sail, an era of Spanish galleons, clipper ships and colonial pirates.
This traveling exhibit, best suited for children and families, is sponsored by the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society of Key West, Fla. The Columbus Code will run until Jan. 7, and admission is free.
Exhibit visitors will travel to various locations around the world to decide which of six shipwrecks has the treasure. Could it be the Queen Anne's Revenge, the shipwreck believed to be the pirate Blackbeard's flagship, in North Carolina's coastal waters? Perhaps it's the Frolic, a clipper ship that sank near San Francisco in 1850, or maybe clues lead to the Santa Margarita, a Spanish galleon that carried treasure and provided armed escort for a fleet of 28 ships. Hit by a hurricane in 1622, the Santa Margarita sank near Key West, Fla.
Intriguing settings and shipwreck artifacts in The Columbus Code lure participants into the fascinating world of archaeology. Clues to the mystery can be found among the objects, ranging from uncut emeralds and gold to ship parts and weapons. A variety of coins, such as Spanish silver pieces of eight and Chinese bronze kongs, will help adventurers date the shipwrecks.
Cannon shot, musket barrels and other weaponry offer additional hints and recall fiery pirate escapades. Casual visitors can enjoy the various interactives and displays without taking part in the hunt.
Fictional characters based on real people guide visitors through each stage of the search in The Columbus Code. Archaeologist Montana Smith, the central figure, travels around the world to gather information to help solve the mystery.
Visitors can explore six exhibit settings, including the Crypt of Notre Dame de la Mer, the Archives of the Indies, the Museum of Maritime Mysteries and the Conservation Laboratory. Decoding markings on a silver ingot and examining X-rays of ancient artifacts are among the hands-on tasks. Replica artifacts, touch screens and field notebooks further enhance the exhibit experience.
Major funding for The Columbus Code has been provided by the Florida Department of State, Bureau of Historical Museums. The exhibit is locally sponsored in part by Bailey's Fine Jewelry, Coastal Federal Credit Union, HPW Mortgage, Mitchell's Catering and Events, the News & Observer of Raleigh, Theo Davis Printing and WakeMed.
Search for Queen Anne's Revenge
Visitors to The Columbus Code will also enjoy The Search for Queen Anne's Revenge, Black-beard's Flagship, a traveling exhibit from the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort.
This small exhibit highlights artifacts recovered from what is thought to be Blackbeard's long-lost flagship. Discovered in 1996 in Beaufort Inlet, the shipwreck continues to receive international attention as excavations take place.
The exhibit features six artifacts retrieved by underwater archaeologists during early dives to the site. A brass blunderbuss barrel, cannon apron, cannonball, pewter plate, lead sounding weight and a portion of a grindstone help shed light on life aboard the 18th-century vessel.
The Search for Queen Anne's Revenge features a short video with footage of early dives to the shipwreck, a map of the site and information about pirates and the notorious Blackbeard. The exhibit will be on view until Jan. 7.
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