New Durham exhibit leaves you Shipwrecked

Posted at 2:57 PM, Jun 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-01 18:16:06-04

A new exhibit, Odyssey's Shipwreck! Pirates & Treasure, open now at the Durham History Museum takes visitors to the depths of lost, historic shipwrecks - all without getting wet!

From the minute you step inside, or should I say wash ashore, you're transported to the sea. 

"It looks amazing!" Cassidy Alfers said, "I mean when you first walk in here it looks like a pirate ship. They have things on the walls and things you can look at."

Odyssesy's Shipwreck! is an eight thousand square foot exhibit that features more than five hundred artifacts discovered by Odyssesy's sea exploration robots. That treasure includes gold finger bars from the 1622 "Tortugas" wreck site, mint condition gold and silver coins from the Civil War-era SS Republic, World War II-era silver from the record-breaking recovery of the SS Gairsoppa, 17th-century New World gold and famed 'pieces of eight' and a variety of personal items like combs, tooth brushes and children's toys.

"Well theres a lot of treasure and a lot of interactive things that you can do," Nathan Keittes said.

Kids can learn about pirates of the past and how they selected the colors and symbols for their flags. This interactive gallery immerses visitors with the lore, legends and facts of pirates of the Caribbean, Barbary Corsairs, Privateers and Buccaneers. Guests can learn how to identify pirate vessels on the horizon using spyglasses, raise the banners of notorious pirates, and learn to tie essential knots for life on the high seas.

"You watch the history channel, there's always these pirate stories. So it's really cool to kind of see the tangible aspects of that," Rachel Stewart said.

Another interactive part looks at how ships were wrecked. Weather was mostly to blame. Families can get a feel for what a hurricane would feel like inside a simulator with 75 mile per hour winds.

There's also an interactive replica of a robotic odyssey arm where visitors can practice picking up coins from the bottom of the ocean. And let's just say it's a lot harder than that claw arcade game.

All in all it's about taking in the history and exploring the stories behind the sunken ships discovered by the explorers of the sea.

Additional SHIPWRECK! Programming

Members-Only Night
Thursday, June 2, 5:30-8PM
Join us as we celebrate the opening of our summer exhibition SHIPWRECK! Members will enjoy dinner, family-friendly activities, crafts and much more.
Please call 402-444-5071 or email by May 25 to reserve your spot.

Up Close with SHIPWRECK!
Saturday, June 4, 9AM with DiVentures' Chad Binder
Saturday, August 20, 9AM with Bill Randby, Chief Meteorologist, KETV NewsWatch Seven's Weather Now Storm Team, Omaha's Weather Leader
Join area experts for a special tour and commentary of the SHIPWRECK! exhibit.

Captain's Orders!
Second and Fourth Saturdays - June, July and August, 11AM
Do you have what it takes to sail the high seas? Join us as we learn all about life onboard a ship. Learn how to read a compass, navigate by the stars and pack for an ocean journey. Then, climb aboard and test your listening ears as we play "Captain's Orders." You will be a sailor before you know it! Program lasts approximately one hour.

Journey to the Bottom of the Ocean
Wednesdays in June and July, 10:30-11:30AM
Bring your little ones down to the museum Wednesday mornings for some hands-on SHIPWRECK! fun. Each week will feature a short story followed by a craft or game which teaches children about underwater exploration. Program lasts approximately one hour.

*Sunken Treasure: Conservation of the Artifacts Recovered from the Steamboat Bertrand
Presented by Megan Griffiths
Tuesday, June 28, 6:30PM
Stanley and Dorothy Truhlsen Lecture Hall

Omaha's Shipwreck: Remembering the Bertrand
June 11 - August 28, 2016
In partnership with the Desoto National Wildlife Refuge, and as a companion exhibition to Odyssey's SHIPWRECK! Pirates & Treasure, The Durham Museum presents the story of the Steamboat Bertrand that sank in the Missouri River on April 1, 1865. Though no one was injured, the entire cargo was lost. Over 100 years later, the objects were recovered through underwater salvage and several are on loan to The Durham to highlight the Omaha area's own shipwreck story.

Steamboats of the Missouri
May 28 - September 11, 2016
A steamboat traversing the Missouri was an important sight in Omaha's early years. These vessels were a mainstay on the Missouri River for nearly a century, transporting materials and people to and from newly emerging cities. Even today these ships carry tourists to a different time: one when the West was still wild and open. Steamboats of the Missouri offers a look into the roles these ships played in the development of the Heartland. Drawing from The Durham Museum's Photo Archive, this show will display a century of steamboats along the Missouri River.

For more information, visit