New Gallery of Ancient Arms and Armor to Open at The Met Today

The Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's first permanent gallery dedicated to the display of ancient arms and armor and related objects will open to the public on October 31. The Gallery of Ancient Arms and Armor features objects dating from the Stone Age to the fifth century A.D. drawn primarily from the Department of Arms and Armor's holdings. The new gallery (Gallery 370) at The Met Fifth Avenue, located at the entrance to the Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Arms and Armor Court, is designed to provide a discrete space to explore the function, technology, circulation, and meanings of ancient arms within the context of the Arms and Armor Galleries.

Organized thematically, the inaugural installation presents some 50 objects representing a vast geographic area stretching from Western Europe to the Far East. They are displayed in eight large glass cases, four of which were acquired specifically for the new gallery.

Highlights among the works on view include eight bifaces (Paleolithic, Acheulean, 700,000–200,000 B.C.), all of which The Met acquired this year. Suitable for a variety of tasks—including digging, chopping, and butchering—they are among the earliest and longest-used tools made by hominins (early human species), with documented usage over a period of 1.7 million years. Also on view are several important loans from private collections, including a Montefortino-type helmet of the late Classical-Hellenistic period (late 4th–early 3rd century B.C.) used by an Etruscan soldier; and a Boeotian-Attic-type helmet and a belt from the first century B.C., possibly intended for a Roman gladiator.

Long before the emergence of the written word, weapons were developed to hunt animals, defend lives and goods, and fight enemies. Many of these objects became increasingly prized for the power they symbolized. By introducing themes that resonate throughout the Arms and Armor Galleries, this newly created gallery both underscores the department's commitment to expanding visitors' engagement with its collection—considered one of the most comprehensive in the world—and leads those visitors toward new discoveries.

The installation is organized by Pierre Terjanian, the Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Curator in Charge of the Department of Arms and Armor at The Met.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

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