The Durham Museum

Dare to go to depths previously unexplored and discover the world of lost, historic shipwrecks – all without getting wet! Odyssey’s SHIPWRECK! Pirates & Treasure takes adventurers back in time and miles under the sea. From gold coins, to silver ingots and priceless artifacts, it’s the most remarkable find on dry land.

Showcasing Odyssey Marine Exploration’s world-class archaeological work in the deep ocean, the SHIPWRECK! exhibit contains over 500 authentic shipwreck artifacts from some of the world’s most fascinating shipwrecks. Recovered by Odyssey in the Atlantic Ocean, English Channel and Mediterranean Sea, the exhibit takes visitors on a voyage through more than 2,000 years of seafaring history. The fascinating story of one of America’s most famous shipwrecks, the Civil War-era SS Republic, is the highlight of the exhibit. The Republic’s vivid history is brought to life by the wide variety of treasure and first-hand accounts from the passengers aboard the Republic during her final stormy journey.

Filled with interactive games and challenges, SHIPWRECK! allows visitors to experience the thrill of shipwreck exploration while investigating some of the world’s greatest maritime stories. A full-size replica of ZEUS, Odyssey’s eight-ton Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), which acts as the archaeologist’s hands and eyes in the deep ocean will be on display. Guests can test their skills by attempting to pick up artifacts with a working model of ZEUS’ robotic arm.

The exhibit is the product of years of research and more than one hundred million dollars invested in deep-ocean exploration discovering shipwreck treasures once believed lost forever. These stories and artifacts offer insight and a physical connection to the world as it was hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

Odyssey’s SHIPWRECK! PIRATES & TREASURE is owned and produced by Seascape Artifact Exhibits.

Exhibit Highlights:
See one-of-a-kind shipwreck treasure including: 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.

Zoom In
A large-scale photomosaic of the 1,700 feet deep SS Republic allows guests the ability to zoom into the wreck site and view precisely where artifacts were discovered on the seabed.

Blown Away!
Learn the science of hurricanes, how people predicted storms before modern technology and the stories of survival from passengers onboard. Plus, climb into hurricane wind tunnels that simulate the high-force winds that took down many historic shipwrecks.

World of Pirates
This interactive gallery will immerse 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, learn to tie essential knots for life on the high seas and create their own pirate in an interactive game!

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, 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.

Space is limited to 25 participants so please make reservations by calling 402-444-5071 or emailing

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.
Stories Include:
Toy Boat by Randall de Sève and Loren Long
Super Submarines by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker
Burt Dow Deep Water Man by Robert McCloskey
Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea by Jan Peck

*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

On April 1, 1865, the Steamship Bertrand hit a submerged log thirty miles north of Omaha, Nebraska. Bound for the newly discovered goldfields of Montana from St. Louis, Missouri, the Bertrand sank into the depths of the Missouri River; and after initial salvage efforts, her cargo was written off as a complete loss. Using historical documents and modern equipment, treasure hunters Sam Corbino and Jesse Pursell located the wreck on the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge in 1968. By 1969, the vessel’s cargo was completely excavated from its thirty-foot deep mud tomb. The Bertrand’s cargo was remarkably well-preserved and the collection is a unique time capsule of the Civil War era. Megan Griffiths will discuss the history, recovery and restoration of this local treasure.

Griffiths is a Conservation Technician at the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, a division of the Nebraska State Historical Society. She received a B.A. in Art History from the University of Tulsa and worked as the Museum Educator for Children’s Programming at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, OK. She earned a M.Litt. in Museum and Gallery Studies from the University of St. Andrews (Scotland) before coming to work in the Objects Lab at the Ford Center.

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.

*Space is limited so please make reservations by calling 402-444-5071 or emailing