Huth, Boeing, Salmon & Haws Galleries
November 10, 2023 – January 14, 2024

a swept-hill sword

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.

Lecture and Preview Party with Jeffrey Forgeng

Curator of Arms and Armor and Medieval Art
at the Worcester Art Museum

Thursday, November 9 | 6 – 8 p.m.

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.

This exhibition was organized by the Worcester Art Museum.

Fantasies in Steel: The Age of Armor

Arms and armor has a perennial draw on the human imagination. It was mythologized by the cultures that produced it, and it remains a vibrant part of modern mythologies through stories, cinema, and digital games. But what about the realities behind the myth? Who made the armor, who wore it, how well did it work—and how did it come to be in Huntsville half a millennium later? Join Jeffrey L. Forgeng, curator of The Age of Armor, as he takes you on a personal journey through highlights of the exhibition and the centuries of human stories forged into the steel of these objects.

Jeffrey L. Forgeng, the Higgins Curator of Arms & Armor and Medieval Art at the Worcester Art Museum, has been responsible for the Higgins Collection since 1999. His nationally touring exhibitions have included The Age of Armor; A Double-Edged Weapon: The Sword as Icon and Artifact; and “Now Thrive the Armourers”: Arms and Armor in Shakespeare. He is currently developing WAM’s permanent arms and armor gallery. Dr. Forgeng is the author of over a dozen books, including The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship: Royal Armouries Manuscript I.33; Pietro Monte’s Collectanea: The Arms, Armour, and Fighting Techniques of a Fifteenth-Century Soldier; and The Book of Horsemanship by Duarte I of Portugal.

Thank you, Sponsors!

Lead Sponsor:

Kelly and Randy Schrimsher

President’s Circle:

Artist’s Circle:

Additional Support:

Alabama State Council on the Arts

Huntsville Museum of Art Guild