My husband and I recently had the opportunity to attend “Buccaneer Bash”, the grand opening to the Real Pirates at Union Station. The exhibit tells the story of the Whydah a successful pirate ship from the early 1700’s which shipwrecked only to be found almost 300 years later. I am fascinated by pirates (this kind not necessarily this kind) and I relish any opportunity to support Union Station so this event was a perfect for us.
The evening started with drinks, food and music. Fruits, cheeses, and desserts were on tables and wait staff brought around various horderves for guests to sample. The horderves were appropriately seafood themed and provided by Pierpont’s. We tried the conch balls, crab cakes and shrimp cocktail and they were all delicious. While we ate we were entertained by pirate themed bands which added a great ambiance to the area.
After about an hour, George Guastello, President and CEO of Union Station took the stage and spoke briefly the exhibit and about Union Station. I was surprised to learn that Union Station receives no tax dollars from Kansas City, and is therefore reliant solely on the income it draws in from events and exhibits to continue to operate.
Robert Regnier, the chairman of the Union Station Board of directors and his wife Ann then introduced Mark Lach the exhibit creator who talked about the exhibit and how the artifacts it contains made their way from the bottom of the ocean to Kansas City. The doors then opened for the exhibit itself. Groups of about one hundred each were lead into a theatre to watch a short video that tells the the tale of the Whydah before then moving onto the rest of the exhibit. The video was very well done and accentuated with lighting effects that added to the drama as we watched the Whydah battle a storm and ultimately meet its untimely demise.
We then continued onto a mock Pirate ship which had replica pirate quarters as well as further information about piracy during the 1700s and about the Whydah’s crew. The Whydah, we learned, was named after a port it frequented along Africa’s western shore. It was a slave ship until it was overtaken by pirates. It was interesting to learn about this often overlooked portion of western European history through the perspective of a single ship and its crew.
The highlight of the exhibit were the artifacts discovered on ocean floor. The ship’s bell, the first artifact that we discovered, was remarkably nearly intact and on display. There was weaponry and pirate treasure. Just as interesting were the belt buckles, silverware, and other trinkets which gave glimpses into the life of a pirate during that time.
Last was the gift shop where if you liked you could get your own pirate treasure or any number of items to help you remember your experience. Overall, the event and the exhibit were both wonderful. The “Real Pirates” exhibit is both engaging and educational. Older children (I would say from about age seven on) will get a lot out of this exhibit, and there is enough going on to hold their attention. I strongly encourage landlubbers both young and old to come experience this true pirate tale and support Union Station as it continues to bring new and exciting experiences to Kansas City.
Blogger Holli Ann documents her journey through life and parenting online at It’s An Ordinary Blog.