When you walk into the Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which opens today, the first thing you do is watch a short movie, one of those PBS-style hist-umentaries with the vaguely English-sounding narrator, the scrolling/zooming over photos and paintings and the occasional reenactment. You know the kind. After the movie's over, they let you into the actual exhibit -- and it's sort of like that movie fell out of the screen like in Voyage of the Dawn Treader and now you are actually inhabiting it.
The main attractions, of course, are the artifacts from the recovery of the Whydah, a slave-ship-turned-pirate-ship that sunk off the coast of Cape Cod some three hundred years ago, but there are about a million other things going on. Every few steps, there's an activity to do, a wax-sculpture scene, an actor hired to be a pirate and engage you in the kind of awkward conversation you're not sure how you're supposed to engage, kind of like when the clowns talk to you at the circus. There's a full-scale recreation of about half the ship that you walk through. There are tons of videos to watch. The sound effects never stop -- even the paintings have sound effects.
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At the preview I went to last night, there weren't any children (it was very grown-up), but I can't imagine how overstimulated they're going to be when they show up this weekend. In the meantime, here are a handful of photos to give you an idea of what's on display, though they really can't do justice to the level of immersion happening here.