Real Pirates

 The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship




The classical age of piracy is brought to life in Real Pirates! Open now through April 19, 2015

Real Pirates tells the true story of the Whydah – a pirate ship that sank off the coast of Cape Cod nearly 300 years ago. The exhibition features treasure chests filled with coins from all over the world, including authentic coins that visitors can touch, pirate dress items, daily objects used aboard the ship, jewelry, and technically advanced weaponry of the time – 18th century cannon, pistols and swords. These artifacts were painstakingly recovered from the ocean floor by underwater explorer Barry Clifford and his team over the past two and a half decades.  One of the most striking artifacts is a replica of the ship’s bell, inscribed “Whydah Galley 1716,” which was used to authenticate the shipwreck site as that of the Whydah.

Real Pirates is a touring exhibition organized by National Geographic and Premier Exhibitions, Inc.

Exhibition highlights:

  • After looting more than 50 ships, the Whydah sank off the coast of Cape Cod in a violent storm nearly 300 years ago
  • Real Pirates will have authentic chests of coins, jewelry, cannons, pistols and a replica of the actual ship that visitors can board
  • Real Pirates will provide visitors with the history and context of the economic, social and political circumstances of the early 18th Century
  • The exhibition will be enjoyable for both kids and adults





Non-Members                                                       Members                 

Adults $17                                                               Adults $12

Seniors $16 (62 and older)                                     Seniors $11 (62 and older)

Children $12 (3-17)                                                 Children $10 (3-17)

Children under 2 are free                                        Children under 2 are free

*includes general admission                                   *Members get free audio tours

Audio tours $5 each





Pirates Parody Commercial Contest 

Starting January 26, enter your submission for the Pirates Parody Commercial Contest! Create your own pirate commercial between 15 and 45 seconds long, email it to and vote for the best video between February 11 – 17 for your chance to win a Grand Rapids Gift Basket including a family 4 pack of Real Pirates tickets, pirate merchandise and more!


  • Video submissions may be emailed to beginning January 26, 2015.
  • Entries must be submitted by midnight on February 9, 2015.
  • Voting begins February 11, 2015 via YouTube. The Museum will host all entries on their YouTube channel under the playlist “Pirate Commercial Playlist”. Voting will continue until noon on February 17, 2015.
  • The public will vote by likes of individual videos. Only YouTube’s video likes (thumbs up) will be counted.
  • Winner will be announced via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube comment and the Real Pirates page on at 10 a.m. on February 20, 2015.


  • Video submissions must be able to be uploaded on social media platforms including but not limited to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Video should be no shorter than 15 seconds in length and no longer than 45 seconds in length.
  • Video submissions must be emailed to with the subject line including your name & “Pirate Parody Submission.”
  • Must include the pirate theme in some way
  • Must be an original creation.
  • Must be family friendly.
  • One entry per participant.
  • Any videos submitted are the property of the GRPM to be used as they see fit.

Important Dates

  •  Contest Opens January 26, 2015 at 9 a.m.
  • Submission Deadline February 9, 2015 at 12 a.m.
  • Voting Begins February 11, 2015 at 9 a.m.
  • Voting Ends February 17, 2015 at 12 p.m.
  • Winner Announced February 20, 2015 at 10 a.m.


Official Rules and Regulations


Pirate’s Code: The Adventures of Mickey Matson

Now through April 19, visit the Museum on special days and see West Michigan film Pirate’s Code: The Adventures of Mickey Matson.

In this sequel to “Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Treasure,” our heroes, Mickey and his best friend Sully, are forced to take on a mission to save our country from the evil plans of Admiral Ironsides. The Admiral and his motley crew of modern day pirates have taken control of a large merchant ship with plans of deploying a new type of weapon that could destroy every electronic device on Earth. If Ironsides succeeds, it could be the end of the world as we know it.

Located in the Meijer Theater at the GRPM. No ticket required. Run time 1 hr & 40 minutes.

 Click here for showtimes. 


Be ready for a rich and exciting experience that engages visitors from their first step into the exhibit. Young visitors are especially enthralled, drawn to the authentic artifacts presented in a range of media. The exhibit may be viewed from many different perspectives and thus lends itself naturally to interdisciplinary studies. Some of the content areas you will discover embedded in the exhibit include: geography, history, and social studies; science and technology; art and music; language arts; math and measurement.

Teacher Resource Packet


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