Emperors, Artists & Inventors: Transformative Gifts of Fine Arms and Armor

December 21, 2020–February 21, 2022
Previously on view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 380
Exhibitions are free with Museum admission.

For thousands of years and in cultures around the world, people have valued finely crafted armor and weapons for reasons that transcend utility, treasuring them for qualities such as innovative design, stunning decoration, use of precious materials, and impressive workmanship. Spanning fifteen hundred years, from sixth-century Byzantium to early twentieth-century America, this exhibition features extraordinary works made in the service of monarchs, the nobility, and other eminent patrons—all created by skilled artists or fabricated to showcase the latest technical innovations of the era.

These exquisite pieces of armor, ornate swords, and luxurious firearms were donated to The Met in celebration of the Museum’s 150th anniversary. With this exhibition of their gifts, we celebrate the unfailing generosity and support of the following individuals and foundations: Anne Brockinton Lee and The Robert M. Lee Foundation; Irene Roosevelt Aitken, the Russell B. Aitken and Irene R. Aitken Collection; Laird Landmann and Kathleen Kinney; Ronald S. Lauder; Steven Kossak and The Kronos Collections; Dr. Kenneth Lam and Dr. Vivian Chui; and Edward LaPuma.

Marquee: Smith & Wesson .44 Double-Action Frontier Model Revolver Decorated by Tiffany & Co. (serial no. 8401) (detail). American, Springfield, Massachusetts, and New York, ca. 1893. Smith & Wesson, established 1852 (manufacturer); Tiffany & Co., established 1837 (decorator). Steel, silver, ivory. L. 11 5/8 in (29.5 cm); L. of barrel 6 in (15.2 cm); Cal. .44 in (11.17 mm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of The Robert M. Lee Foundation, in celebration of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary, 2018 (2019.444a)