The Age of Armor at the Toledo Museum of Art

Special to The Truth

Armor made its debut at the Toledo Museum of Art this past weekend and for the next 12 weeks, visitors can view a collection of armor “made for the battlefield, tournaments and ceremonies, highlighting armor’s practical function and its role as a symbol of personal identity, social prestige and the values of a heroic past,” according to the Museum’s description of the exhibit.

“The Age of Armor: Treasures from the Higgins Armory Collection at the Worcester Art Museum” was curated for the Higgins by Jeffrey Forgeng. The TMA exhibit was co-curated by Diane Wright, TMA’s senior curator of glass and contemporary craft, and Sophie Ong, the Museum’s Hirsch curatorial fellow.

The exhibition opened on November 6 and will continue at TMA until February 27 when it moves on to a national tour. Over 80 works are on display which feature, for the most part, the history of the armor that was typically used as protection for knights in Europe from the mid-1300s to the mid-1600s, but also includes examples of armor from around the world – from ancient ages to the modern era.

“With outstanding examples extending from the warriors of ancient Greek legends to the knights of the Middle Ages, this exhibition offers a tremendous opportunity for visitors to take a step back in time and explore the expert craftsmanship and many uses of some of the most significant arms and armor still in existence,” said Wright.

Japanese Armor

“’The Age of Armor’ will be the first major exhibition at TMA to celebrate the industry and artistry of the armorer’s craft from antiquity to the advent of the modern age,” said Ong.

The exhibition traces the evolution of armor by enlightening visitors on its construction and the use of various metals – bronze, iron and steel – for weapons as well from ancient Egypt to Greece during the Trojan War, and not the Middle Ages when armor became elaborate and detailed.

While most of the armor is from Europe, there are also examples from Asia, including the Indian subcontinent, and Africa.

The highlights include:

A bronze Corinthian helmet from 600-500 B.C.E.; Italian and German infantry breastplates from the late 1400s; steel “Maximillian field armor from about 1525-30; the left gauntlet for Prince Philip of Spain from 1549-50; a filed armor suit for Henry Herbert, second Earl of Pembroke in the 1560s; a 16th century German mail coat that had been sent to the Ottoman Empire; muskets and pistols from the 1600s; a late feudal Japanese helmet and a russeted steel and gold helmet from 19th century Sudan.

Admission to the Museum is free but the armor exhibition has a $8.00 entrance fee. TMA members receive free admission. The Museum is open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For information call 214-255-8000 or 800-644-6862 or visit