Exhibitions/ Art of the Samurai

Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156–1868

October 21, 2009–January 10, 2010

Exhibition Overview

This is the first comprehensive exhibition devoted to the arts of the samurai. Arms and armor is the principal focus, bringing together the finest examples of armor, swords and sword mountings, archery equipment and firearms, equestrian equipment, banners, surcoats, and related accessories of rank such as fans and batons. Drawn entirely from public and private collections in Japan, the majority of objects date from the rise of the samurai in the late Heian period, ca. 1156, through the early modern Edo period, ending in 1868, when samurai culture was abolished. The martial skills and daily life of the samurai, their governing lords, the daimyo, and the ruling shoguns will also be evoked through the presence of painted scrolls and screens depicting battles and martial sports, castles, and portraits of individual warriors. The exhibition concludes with a related exhibition documenting the recent restoration in Japan of a selection of arms and armor from the Metropolitan Museum’s permanent collection. This is the first exhibition ever devoted to the subject of Japanese arms and armor conservation.

Featured Media


The exhibition is made possible by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Additional support is provided by The Jessica E. Smith and Kevin R. Brine Charitable Trust, the J.C.C. Fund of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York, Inc., the Oceanic Heritage Foundation, and the Japan Foundation.

Transportation assistance was provided by Japan Airlines.

The exhibition was organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Government of Japan, and the Tokyo National Museum.

It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The catalogue is made possible by the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Inc.

Additional support is provided by Arthur Ochs Sulzberger and Allison S. Cowles, the Granscay Fund, and the Doris Duke Fund for Publications.