Mar 102009

Yesterday, Joey and I took his mom and aunt to the Field Museum, with the intention of the four of us seeing the special pirate exhibit that just started. Joey’s aunt (Charlotte) had never been on public transportation in Chicago before, so that alone was an adventure for her. It required a bus, a train, then a bus to get to the museum. When we were finally ready to get off the bus, we pulled the cord to stop, but the driver decided she wasn’t going to stop. This would normally be just a small annoyance and require one to backtrack a half mile or less, but this particular bus was an express bus, which meant our stop was the last one for roughly 10 miles. As we were racing away from our destination, Joey went to question the driver as to why she didn’t stop.

“Y’all didn’t pull the rope in time,” she replied with a smirk–as if we were tourists or something, just because we were heading to a museum.

Once we finally got to the museum (which involved switching buses in a not-so-nice neighborhood) we made our way in and tried to plan our day. The second Monday of each month is supposed to be completely free access, even for the special exhibits like Pirates, which is why we planned this day. Unfortunately, economic hardship has hit even large institutions like the museum, so they eliminated the specially-ticketed evens from the free days.

Joey’s mom offered to pay for us to get into the Pirates exhibit, and we gladly accepted. Once we were at the entrance, there was a huge red sign posted which said photography inside the exhibit wasn’t allowed (you can view the Field Museum’s official photo gallery for the exhibit here), which disappointed me, especially once I got inside and saw all the cool stuff!

The exhibit had some general pirate artifacts, but its main purpose was to follow the history of one ship in particular, the Whydah, and it’s journey from a slave ship to a pirate ship. It also strived to tell the tale of legendary pirate Sam Bellamy who captured the Whydah and made it the flagship of his pirate fleet.

It was hard not to draw similarities between the sensationalized version of pirateering presented by Disney in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, because there were so many. Really the only differences I observed were: the generally jovial nature of Jack and his crew compared to what was portrayed of Bellamy and his lot, and the relatively low number of black crew members Disney included. According to information at the museum, most pirate crews were at least half black, usually more (Blackbeard’s crew was reported to be 60% black). We spent over two hours in the pirate exhibit alone, and it was a trip I’ll likely never forget.

Selection of booty at the Field Museum

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>