Union Station Kansas City / National Geographic

Blackbeard. Jack Sparrow. Captain Hook. We’ve seen the ships, peg legs, skulls and crossbones. They cross the turbulent high seas on the big screen, in books and in our imaginations. But who were pirates, really?

This Saturday, Union Station opens the doors to its “Real Pirates” exhibit. Local actors and actresses bring to life more than 200 artifacts unearthed from the Whydah , a slave ship hijacked by pirates that sunk during a violent storm in 1717. It’s the first real pirate ship to be found off the coast of the U.S.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The remains of a sunken pirate ship found off of Cape Cod, Mass. in 1984 form the ballast of the traveling National Geographic exhibit Real Pirates, opening June 22 at Union Station. The exhibit also features some 200 artifacts found nearby on the ocean floor and, to heighten its authenticity, Union Station has hired a number of actors who will be playing real and fictitious pirates that visitors will be encouraged to engage.