Children’s Museum Reveals First Major Component of National Geographic Treasures of the Earth
Public Relations Coordinator
Visitors to discover underwater archaeology with help from Caribbean shipwreck, Captain Kidd pirate cannon recovered by Indiana University
As part of its series of Spring Break adventure announcements, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis revealed today the first component of its newest permanent exhibit. Underwater archaeology and the treasures it uncovers will be one of three major areas of interest for National Geographic Treasures of the Earth. The $4.2 million exhibit is scheduled to open in the summer of 2011.
In a dramatic scene, museum officials opened a large crate to reveal cannon balls, an early 20th-century diving helmet, Spanish coins, deck spikes and much more.
Imagine “diving” into an underwater, ocean-blue environment. Looking up, you see your dive boat hovering on the water’s surface with an archaeologist on deck who appears to be pulling in a new find. The ocean floor below you is covered with mounds of coral, barnacled cannons and other shipwreck artifacts.
What shipwreck is this? What stories can you piece together from these artifacts? What types of treasures are left behind in shipwrecks and how does the ocean environment affect those treasures? How do underwater archaeologists conduct a marine investigation?
These are the questions that will be asked and answered in this fascinating exhibit component.
“I have personally been to the shipwreck site used as inspiration for creating this component of Treasures of the Earth,” said Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, president and CEO of The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. “The visuals, artifacts and stories are simply amazing. We want our visitors to share in this special experience and learn about the exciting career of an underwater archaeologist.”
To help tell this story, The Children’s Museum is partnering with Indiana University (IU) and its Office of Underwater Science. The partnership was announced in January to coincide with the public unveiling of the first pirate’s cannon ever to be recovered from Caribbean waters.
The cannon is currently under the watchful eye of archaeologist Charles Beeker and other researchers and students, and is one of 26 found stacked in 10 feet of clear Caribbean waters just 70 feet off of Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic. The cannon, which sat underwater for approximately 300 years, will be transported to The Children’s Museum for Treasures of the Earth.
Beeker is the director of IU’s Office of Underwater Science and led the team credited with proving the cannon and shipwreck were that of the Cara Merchant, the ship Captain William Kidd commandeered and then abandoned in 1699 as he returned to New York in an ill-fated attempt to clear his name of piracy charges.
“The Children’s Museum and Indiana University are institutions with very similar goals of creating valuable experiences that spark a love for life-long learning,” said Patchen. “This partnership creates a one-of-a-kind experience, immersing visitors in the extraordinary work being done by IU’s Underwater Science team.”
Attendees at the museum crate opening were treated to a special message from Jennifer Pace Robinson, vice president of experience development and family learning at The Children’s Museum, and Beeker himself. Robinson is currently in the Dominican Republic on museum business and wanted to provide the audience with a glimpse of what they can expect from Treasures of the Earth.
Following today’s announcement will be two more, on March 23 and 30, as the other major components of the new permanent exhibit are revealed. Each event begins at 10:30 a.m. at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a nonprofit institution committed to creating extraordinary family learning experiences that have the power to transform the lives of children and families. The 472,900-square-foot facility houses 11 major galleries. Visitors can explore the physical and natural sciences, history, world cultures and the arts, see how dinosaurs lived 65 million years ago in Dinosphere: Now You’re in Their World®, experience Dale Chihuly’s Fireworks of Glass and examine children’s impact in shaping history in The Power of Children: Making a Difference. The Children’s Museum, situated on 19 acres of land in Indianapolis, presents hundreds of programs and activities each year. For more information about The Children’s Museum, visit www.childrensmuseum.org.