photo: Fran Ruchalski

Treasures of the First Coast at MOSH

Treasures of the First Coast

 Odyssey’s “Shipwreck Pirates and Treasures,” exhibit currently open at MOSH is simply massive! The largest exhibit in the 73-year history of our beloved Museum of Science and History strikes the perfect chord between the two disciplines. Over 500 artifacts discovered and reclaimed from various seas from all parts of the globe, ranging from the beautiful Blue China recovered just 70 miles off the “First Coast” of Jacksonville, to gold and silver and just about anything worth enough for someone to ship, but fated to disaster, are on display. Odyssey Inc., far and away the industry leader in deep-ocean exploration, has assembled an impressive collection. Odyssey is on the cutting edge of Applied Science, and their state-of-art equipment is designed specifically for the discovery and recovery of sunken treasure and valuable minerals from the darkest reaches of the abyss. They have brought some of these toys with them!

A perfect example is Zeus, an 8-ton remotely controlled vehicle that allows Odyssey to navigate the ocean floor and recover artifacts ranging from objects smaller than a dime to mineral deposits weighing upwards of 200 lbs. This is accomplished through the use of two massive metal arms, complete with retractable claws. A full-sized replica of Zeus is located at the entrance to the exhibit. Accompanying Zeus is a working model of Zeus’s arm, which allows the operator the chance to test their skills at recovering and depositing artifacts in a collection basket under simulated real world conditions. These two displays provide a perfect introduction to a vastly interactive and informative exhibit.

Just beyond Zeus is the “World of Pirates“ interactive gallery, which allows pirate enthusiasts of all ages the chance to identify various period-specific vessels through a spyglass, charged with determining whether they be friend or foe. The “create your own pirate” display gives you the chance to customize a pirate, from head to toe, and from name to sidearm. Once completed, you may wish to step inside a wind tunnel that blasts the occupant with 75 mph winds, equivalent to a category one hurricane. I admit it was a thrill.

Interspersed throughout the exhibit are many ornate information panels that provide insight into the various shipwreck sites, how they were discovered and excavated. Also included is information on the vessel’s purpose, its cargo and intended destination and the cause of its loss. Just below these panels are a few of the artifacts themselves.

The third floor functions as a treasure room and is reserved for the pirate in all of us. If you have ever dreamed of discovering lost fortunes, then all I can say is “Eureka!” Seventeenth century gold bars with roman inscriptions recovered from the Caribbean lie just a few paces away from silver bars the size of cannon balls recovered 15,000 ft. below the surface, from the icy waters of the North Atlantic, placed there by a Nazi torpedo in 1941.

This is a truly fantastic exhibit, and one that provides something for everyone, carefully crafted and thoroughly engrossing. Odyssey and MOSH have combined to create an experience you won’t forget. The exhibit is here at MOSH until March 31st.



About Woody Powell