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Past Exhibition

The Age of Armor: Treasures from the Higgins Armory Collection at the Worcester Art Museum

February 16, 2024–May 12, 2024

Cowden Gallery

Pompeo della Cesa, Field Armor from a Garniture, about 1595, steel, iron, brass, gold, silver, leather, fabric, 56.6 × 10.5 cm (22 5/16 × 4 1/8 in.), 47 lb., 15 oz (weight), The John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection, 2014.112. Image © 2021 Worcester Art Museum, all rights reserved.


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. 

Exhibition admission is free for SAMA members and is included with your general admission ticket purchase. Please note that there is a $5 special exhibition surcharge during our Bexar County Free Hours (Tuesdays 4:007:00 p.m. and Sundays 10:00 a.m.noon).

This exhibition was organized by the WORCESTER ART MUSEUM. 

The Age of Armor: Treasures from the Higgins Armory Collection at the Worcester Art Museum has been generously supported by The Brown Foundation and the Elizabeth Huth Coates Charitable Foundation of 1992. 

 

Exhibition Gallery

Workshops of Wolf and Peter von Speyer or Wolf Peppinghorn, Rennzeug (armor for the ‘joust of war’), about 1590–1600, steel, iron, leather, black paint, textile and horsehair stuffing, 93 lb., 1 oz (weight), The John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection, 2014.1154 

Pikeman’s Armor with Helmet for a Harquebusier, later decorated for ceremonial use, Netherlandish, about 1625–1650, decorated in 1700s, steel, iron and paint with modern leather, 16 lb., 10 oz (weight), The John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection, 2014.1132 

‘Maximilian’ Field Armor holding a Warhammer for a Horseman, Southern German, about 1525–1530, armor: steel, iron, and leather with modern restorations, 64 lb., 14 oz (weight), warhammer: etched and blackened steel, 56.6 × 10.5 cm (22 5/16 × 4 1/8 in.), 2 lb., 12 oz (weight), The John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection, 2014.111 and 2014.469.

Master “MR”, German, from the area of Nuremberg, Comb Morion for the Guard of Christian I or II, Electors of Saxony,  about 1585–1595, blackened steel with etched and gilded decoration, brass, textile and leather, 27.9 × 24.4 × 35.7 cm (11 × 9 5/8 × 14 1/16 in.), 4 lb. (weight), The John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection, 2014.48. Image © 2021 Worcester Art Museum, all rights reserved.

Wolfgang Stäntler, Swept-Hilt Sword for the Munich Town Guard,  about 1600, steel, iron with blueing, and wood, 101.9 × 85.1 × 4.5 × 18 cm (40 1/8 × 33 1/2 × 1 3/4 × 7 1/16 in.), 3 lb., 3 oz (weight), The John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection, 2014.52. Image © 2021 Worcester Art Museum, all rights reserved. 

Nagasone Tojiro Mitsumasa, Helmet in the form of a Sea Conch Shell, 1618, iron with traces of lacquer, textiles, 22.9 × 30.5 × 26.7 cm (9 × 12 × 10 1/2 in.), 3 lb., 13 oz (weight), The John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection, 2014.89.1. Image © 2021 Worcester Art Museum, all rights reserved.

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