The Independence Seaport Museum has a new permanent exhibition that celebrates the city's great naval history. It's called Patriots and Pirates, and it explores Philadelphia's connection to the founding of the United States Navy and a little told story about America's conflict with pirates.
Independence Seaport Museum Chief Curator Craig Bruns says the exhibit is divided into 3 parts and has about 50 objects that have rarely been seen by the public, "The first section is about the unprotected nation and our ships being pirated by the Algerians," Bruns says, "We have a beautiful model of an Algerian pirate ship. We have some pistols that they would have used."
The exhibit also includes the original letter the kidnapped sailors wrote to Congress in 1793 imploring the government to intervene and help secure their release. At the time, there was no U.S. Navy.
"The second section is Congress debating if we should have an actual navy or not," says Bruns, "so Philadelphian Joshua Humphreys was selected to design and manage the building of the new American Navy."
The exhibit includes a re-creation of what Humphreys' shipyard looked like during the late 1700s; it was located on the Delaware River at Washington Avenue.
The third section covers Philadelphia's role in building the U.S. Navy. Visitors can see the original letter John Barry received naming him the first captain of the Navy, "That's why sometimes he's referred to as the father of the American navy," explains Bruns.
As part of the exhibit, you can climb aboard a model of Diligence of 1797. The ship served as part of Commodore Barry's West Indies Squadron.
"So there's a lot of room for you to come and play and pretend that either you're a patriot or pirate," says Bruns.
Patriots and Pirates is permanently on display at the Independence Seaport Museum. For tickets and museum hours go to www.TheArtsinPhilly.org.
The Independence Seaport Museum: Patriots and Pirates - 6abc Loves the Arts
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