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Blackbeard exhibit’s opening day draws crowds

SPENCER — This exhibit is rated “arrr!”
Those who love all things pirate-related will recognize the traditional swashbuckler yell, no matter how it’s spelled.
And even ‘landlubbers’ visiting the N.C. Transportation Museum’s new exhibit, “Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge: 1718” can get in on the pirate action.
Hours before Saturday’s official ribbon-cutting ceremony, opening the exhibit’s six-week run, visitors were already exploring relics from the wreck of the famous pirate’s ship.
For kids, museum admission includes an official map, complete with instructions on how to talk like a pirate.
For adults, the exhibit offers a rare glimpse into history, and the search for real treasures buried beneath the waves.
Blake Deming, of Charlotte, brought his family up to the museum. He said he’s always wanted to see artifacts collected from Blackbeard’s pirate ship.
The Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground at Beaufort Inlet in 1718. In 1996, the remains of the ship were discovered.
Over the next 15 years, artifacts were recovered that helped confirm the vessel’s identity.
Deming, Heather Amburgy and sons Forest and August walked among the display cases that contained cannonballs, serving utensils and other relics.
Deming said he’s long wanted to see the artifacts recovered from the wreck. “Every time we went to the beach, I thought of going,” he said.
Along with the artifacts, visitors get to see how the remains of the wreck – underwater for almost 300 years – were found, and explore how they were preserved.
For history buffs, there are videos, interactive touch-screen display and plenty of background on the Queen Anne’s Revenge, and other shipwrecks.
For the kids, there are pirate-themed activities, a chest full of costumes for dress-up and a chance to have pictures made with statues of pirates.
Josh Medlin, 7, said his favorite part of the display was the cannon.
His brother, Ben, said seeing a “real” pirate was fun.
“He looked mean, didn’t he?” mom Sara Medlin asked.
“It’s a great exhibit,” she said. Her mother, Nancy Larrick, agreed, saying it was nice to see ships in addition to the trains, planes and automobiles usually on display at the Transportation Museum.
Leah Cook, staff member at the museum, said there was a lot of excitement about the pirate exhibit because of recent movies about pirates.
Cook said more than 40 people came in to see the exhibit early, before the first train ride of the morning.
At the museum, the romanticized images of fictional pirates like Captain Jack Sparrow and Long John Silver commingle with historical facts about Blackbeard.
The exhibit explains how Edward Teach, a native of Wales, started as captain of a privateer — a privately-owned warship with a license from England to attack enemy ships, in exchange for bounty.
When Teach and his crew went rogue, attacking other ships at will, they truly became pirates.
The fearsome legend of Teach’s alter-ego, Blackbeard, began to grow.
Even though the Queen Anne’s Revenge sank, Blackbeard’s career continued until his death in battle in November 1718.
Forest Deming, 4, already knows the basics about pirates.
“I know that they’re greedy,” he told Angela, when asked.
“What do they want?” she asked Forest.
“Money,” Forest said. “And rings, jewelry.”
After viewing the exhibits, kids could make pirate hats, use a lanyard to raise one of several pirate flags and practice ringing a ship’s bell.
This Saturday, the museum will host “Family Pirate Day” for kids and adults.
Paying museum guests will experience storytelling, a pirate costume contest and treasure hunt, Cook said.
The exhibit will remain at the N.C. Transportation Museum through August 31.
More information is available online at www.nctrans.org.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.

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