Exhibition: The Captain Kidd Story

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 21, 2011

Pirates: The Captain Kidd Story
Museum of London Docklands, 20 May — 30 October 2011

Focusing on the legendary privateer turned pirate, Captain Kidd, this exhibition reveals the surprising truth of how London’s corrupt political activities were entrenched in piracy. The launch date also coincides with the anniversary of Captain Kidd’s execution on 23 May 1701 in Wapping. From cannons and hidden treasure maps to female pirates and gibbet cages, the exhibition will explore the myths and mysteries surrounding common perceptions of pirates. 17th- and 18th-century English society will also be explored, looking at gruesome ritual executions and the greed and manipulation of the infamous East India Company. Over 170 objects will be displayed, including:

• Kidd’s last letter with the promise of hidden treasure
• A real pirate flag, the Admiralty Marshall’s Silver Oar and a gibbet cage
• A Vivienne Westwood outfit from her seminal 1981 ‘Pirates’ collection
• An original 1724 edition of Captain Johnson’s History of the Pyrates
• An early 18th-century cannon
• Images of the Quedah Merchant ship wreck, the vessel that was captured by Scottish privateer, William “Captain” Kidd on January 30, 1698. On May 23, Indiana University will place a dedication plaque on the actual shipwreck.

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From an IU press release (13 December 2007) . . .

Indiana University discovers 1699 Captain Kidd Shipwreck

IU marine protection authority Charles Beeker examines possible wreckage from Capt. Kidd's Quedagh Merchant. Photo courtesy of Indiana University

Resting in less than 10 feet of Caribbean seawater, the wreckage of Quedagh Merchant, the ship abandoned by the scandalous 17th-century pirate Captain William Kidd as he raced to New York in an ill-fated attempt to clear his name, has escaped discovery — until now. An underwater archaeology team from Indiana University announced on 13 December 2007 the discovery of the remnants. IU marine protection authority Charles Beeker said his team has been licensed to study the wreckage and to convert the site into an underwater preserve, where it will be accessible to the public.

Beeker, director of Academic Diving and Underwater Science Programs in IU Bloomington’s School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, said it is remarkable that the wreck has remained undiscovered all these years given its location, just 70 feet off the coast of Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic, and because it has been sought actively by treasure hunters. “I’ve been on literally thousands of shipwrecks in my career,” Beeker said. “This is one of the first sites I’ve been on where I haven’t seen any looting. We’ve got a shipwreck in crystal clear, pristine water that’s amazingly untouched. We want to keep it that way, so we made the announcement now to ensure the site’s protection from looters.” (more…)

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