Arms and Armor: Highlights of the Permanent Collection
Gallery 236


After a three-year absence, highlights of the Art Institute’s ever-popular collection of arms and armor are on special display. This installation of nearly 50 items includes full suits, half suits, pole arms, cannons, a shield with two swords, and, for the first time at the Art Institute, a knight on a fully arrayed horse—something previously impossible due to the low ceilings in Gunsaulus Hall. In addition, the high ceilings in the new installation space allow for the inclusion of grand Renaissance and Baroque tapestries, along with several paintings and a piece of sculpture, objects that suggest the variety of settings—military combat, tournaments, jousts, and parades—in which arms and armor were originally viewed. Reflecting current scholarship in the field, this new installation explores the close relationship between arms and armor and contemporaneous art and fashion, illustrating the ways these objects emphasized the owner’s social status.

Plans are underway for a larger permanent installation of this vast collection that will allow for the inclusion of many more objects like those now on display, as well as firearms and edged weapons not currently on view. These future galleries will be part of a suite of rooms featuring the museum’s significant holdings of medieval and Renaissance art, including ceramics, illuminated manuscripts, jewelry, metalwork, paintings, sculpture, stained glass, and textiles.

Additional pieces can be found in Gallery 205.


The George F. Harding Fund.

Generous support for Arms and Armor is provided by the Edwardson Family Foundation.

Jorg T. Sorg the younger, etcher. Armor for Field and Garniture, 1560. George F. Harding Collection.