The Higgins Armory Collection at the Worcester Art Museum is the nation’s second largest collection of arms and armor, including more than 1,500 objects ranging from ancient Egypt to 19th-century Japan but with particular strengths in suits of steel armor from medieval and Renaissance Europe.
Age of Armor: Treasures from the Higgins Armory Collection at the Worcester Art Museum presents highlights from the collection in a major survey of defensive armor in Europe from its origins in the 1300s to today.
The exhibition begins with an ancient Greek helmet to demonstrate armor’s long history in Western civilization and includes superb helmets from Japan, India and Sudan to suggest the universality of armor as a defensive tool and a medium for artistic virtuosity. The heart of the exhibition is the gloriously decorated armors – including several full suits – produced by Renaissance craftsmen in the 1500s.
Age of Armor embraces recent scholarship in which parallels are drawn between the design of these suits and clothing fashions to make the point that armor is clothing.
Basic forms of plate armor have inspired designers and creators throughout time and into the late 20th century, and the Saint Louis Art Museum’s presentation of this exhibition will add examples of modern defensive gear developed by the U.S. Army as well as representations of armor from Hollywood films.
Additionally, the exhibition will include depictions of armor in other artworks from the Saint Louis Art Museum collection, including paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder, prints by Albrecht Dürer and rarely exhibited Flemish tapestries.
The Saint Louis Art Museum will celebrate Age of Armor with a free, public preview starting at 4 p.m. on Feb. 17.