New exhibition: Pirates

    National Maritime Museum Cornwall can be found on the aptly named Discovery Quay, overlooking Falmouth Harbour.

    The Museum’s 15 galleries – above and below the sea – explore the fascinating and surprising influence the ocean has had on our history and culture.

    The Museum’s permanent galleries allow visitors to gain a powerful sense of Cornwall’s rich maritime history – and an insight into what makes the Cornish coast so special. From the top of the 100ft Lookout Tower take in the picturesque panoramic views of the world’s third deepest natural harbour before heading to the bottom where you can spot sea life from the giant undersea windows.

    Climb aboard the rescue vehicles in the RNLI Rescue Zone, sail miniature boats on the Boat Pool, let imaginations run wild in the Play Zone and see the jewels from the nation’s Small Boat Collection dramatically hung overhead in the Main Hall.

    Throughout the year the Museum has a rolling programme of events and exhibitions and on Friday 31 March 2023, the Museum’s eagerly awaited blockbuster exhibition, Pirates, opened.

    In this latest major temporary exhibition National Maritime Museum Cornwall explores the historic representation of pirates through the ages. Were pirates of the 18th century heroes of the age or no more than callous cut-throats?

    Depicted in countless pieces of popular culture as symbols of freedom, adventure and heroism, their image puts them at odds with the often-brutal realities of pirate life. But how has this image been created? And why is it such an enduring and popular one?

    To find out, set sail on the high seas and explore the history of the ‘Golden Age’ of piracy and the different ways that pirate identity has been constructed and consumed over the generations. From the Pirates of Penzance and Captain Hook through to piracy-inspired catwalk collections and children toys. Visitors are invited to meet the man who inspired Long John Silver, land on Treasure Island, dance a hornpipe with Horatio Pugwash, and immerse themselves in the Sea of Thieves game.

    Filled with fascinating facts, objects on loan from national museums and sensory experiences, Pirates explores the different ways popular culture has shaped how we think of pirates today, before diving into the timber-shivering truth and unearthing the dark world of the real pirates of the Caribbean.

    Pirates runs at National Maritime Museum Cornwall until early January 2025.

    Through our exhibitions programme we aspire to bring new and diverse perspectives to maritime issues, and highlight their relevance to the present day. We also bring rare objects from around the world to Cornwall to tell local, national and international stories. Your admission fee is reinvested back into the museum to enhance and grow our work, which also includes our family learning activities; our award winning education programmes; our boat building and conservation; and our work to preserve and promote Cornwall’s maritime heritage.

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