Numbering almost fourteen thousand objects and spanning the thirteenth through the early nineteenth centuries, the Arms and Armor collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest in the Western Hemisphere and one of the most encyclopedic of its kind in the world.
Finely designed and decorated arms and armor were always rare, and the majority of existing pieces are preserved in the great ancestral collections of Europe. Since there are very few public collections of armor in this country, this exhibition will provide a unique opportunity for the national museum visitor to see a selection of exceptional quality and diversity illustrating the broad history of the subject. The objects have been selected not only for their artistic merit but also to present their important function in almost every aspect of chivalric and courtly life during the medieval and later periods. Such objects were used in wars, tournaments, parades, and the hunt. Designed to protect the wearer, they also combined comfort and balance with graceful appearance. From the thirteenth century on, armor and weapons became the objects of elaborate and colorful decoration, and artists of talent and reputation devoted themselves to their design and execution.
This exhibition, organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The American Federation of Arts, continues a recently initiated joint program of traveling exhibitions intended to share the vast artistic resources of this great museum with other institutions across the country.