From the warriors of ancient Greek legends, to the knights of the Middle Ages, to the superheroes of today’s popular culture, the idea of personal body armor has an enduring hold on the human imagination. Armor is as old as human civilization, and has been used in various forms in societies around the globe, but full suits of articulated steel plates were made only in Europe, and only for a brief time in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. This exhibition explores the story of armor in its golden age.
Suits of armor are among the most popular objects with museumgoers, but there are few significant collections of armor in the Americas. In 2014, the Worcester Art Museum acquired the Higgins Armory Collection. While most of this rare collection is in storage awaiting the creation of a dedicated arms and armor gallery, there is a unique opportunity to share these objects with a national and international public. Visitors will discover the diverse and often surprising stories embedded in these powerful objects. Far from the ungainly exoskeleton we often imagine today, the suit of armor was made to be sleek and stylish—painstakingly engineered, elegantly designed, and treasured as the expression of its owner’s taste, sophistication, and prowess.