by: Nelson Hicks Updated:ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla.,None —
Canons, guns, treasure; it's a pirate life and one that comes to life at the Pirate and Treasure Museum in St. Augustine.
"We (have) the oldest collection of authentic pirate artifacts in the world," museum director Cindy Stavely told wsbtv.com. "We have over 800 artifacts and treasure displayed here."
The collection features authentic pirate swords, jewels, maps, documents written by kings, the oldest "Wanted" poster in the world and a variety of other items pirates used during the Golden Age of Piracy.
"The collection here is unique," Stavely said. "A lot of the things you're going to see here, you can't see anywhere else in the world."
One item visitors can't see anywhere else in the world is an authentic pirate treasure chest. The St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum features the only remaining authentic pirate treasure chest. It belonged to the pirate Thomas Tew. He left it with his family when he went out to attack a merchant ship. He never made it back. The chest weighs 150 pounds empty and features an elaborate locking mechanism.
Another unique item at the museum is a Jolly Roger flag. It's one of only two Jolly Roger flags in the world that actually flew on a pirate ship.
"This intimidating flag from the mid-19th century actually flapped in violent sea air and harkens back to the days when buccaneers flew blood-colored flags to frighten prey to speedy surrender," notes the museum's website.
The museum features several interactive exhibits, too. There's Rogue's Tavern where visitors can learn about several of the most famous pirates. On the gun deck, visitors can fire a canon or take aim with a number of weapons. Below deck, guests can hear how Blackbeard met his doom.
"It's a 3-D audio show where you go into the below deck room, close the doors, the lights flicker down and you have headphones on and in your head, in 3-D audio, you're going to hear Blackbeard's last battle," Stavely said. "Now Disney Imagineers designed this for us, so you can only imagine the quality of it."
On wsbtv.com's visit to the museum, we got a chance to meet Captain Mayhem, too. He portrays a pirate and talked about a number of ideas associated with pirates. Did they make traitors walk the plank? Did pirates bury their treasure? Watch the video to find out.
Once visitors finish exploring the Golden Age of Piracy, they can enter the museum's final wing. It's devoted to Hollywood Pirates. The exhibit features a collection of pirate movie memorabilia and showcases some of the myths that Hollywood has created.
"We kind of like to say, 'It's like Smithsonian meets Disney is kind of like the experience that you're gonna get while you're here,"' Stavely noted.
Learn more about the Pirate and Treasure Museum at PirateSoul.com.
This story is sponsored by FloridasHistoricCoast.com.