Bold Explorer Award

Meet the 2023 Bold Explorer Award Winner – Matthew Collins 

October 1, 2023

The Real Pirates Museum in Salem, Massachusetts is proud to announce the inaugural winner of the Bold Explorer Award. This award will be presented annually to someone who uncovers maritime history and helps bring it to life for others to learn from it.

This year’s winner is young Matthew Collins who was presented with the award at a spring Salem Chamber of Commerce meeting. He was not only lauded for his actions but given a $1000 scholarship check from the Boston Marine Society as a part of his award. 

Bold Explorer Award

The Story of Matthew’s Unique Discovery

Matthew’s story of discovering an artifact began earlier last year when he and his family visited Real Pirates Salem.  It was there that he was able to see and touch the world’s only fully authenticated pirate treasure ever discovered. 

While on the museum’s tour, he learned about the famous pirate Captain Black Sam Bellamy and the pirate ship Whydah which sank off the coast of Cape Cod in a violent nor’easter in the early 1700s. He also had a chance to explore and learn all about the archeology and preservation process of historical artifacts; specifically those that have gone through the process of concretion – the accumulation of sediment and salt on artifacts. 

This seemingly innocuous tour of Real Pirates Salem would come in handy during a camping trip to Winter Island in Salem where he discovered an artifact covered in sediment and rust. For many, this item would be tossed aside as nothing interesting or valuable. But, with his keen eye and sense of exploration, Matthew brought his discovery to the Underwater Archeology Lab at Real Pirates Salem to discover what was under all of the concretion.

The scientists in the lab were able to ascertain that the artifact was a ~200-year-old boat spike! It’s not every day you can claim to have found something that old that is tied to the maritime history of the region. Real Pirates Salem’s underwater conservator, Dr. Scott Herber properly conserved the artifact in accordance with his professional training and new life has been breathed into the marine spike’s existence – one of teaching others.

Bold ExplorerThe Mission Behind Real Pirates 

Real Pirates Salem isn’t just a museum that features real-life stories about pirates. It’s also a place where scientists, history lovers, children and adults alike can experience history through real treasures and artifacts that have been discovered in a shipwreck like the Whydah

The artifacts displayed in the Museum are hundreds of years old and some of them were last touched by pirates more than 300 years ago. The items found help us understand history, what life was like during these time periods, and how it impacts our lives now. 

As a constant explorer, Matthew plans to use his prize money to continue his discoveries by purchasing a metal detector to use in the future. We wish him luck on his explorations and honor his adventurous spirit.

To learn more about the Bold Explorer Award and the Real Pirates Salem Museum check out our Facebook Page, and our exhibits online, and plan your visit today!