The John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection is the second largest arms and armor collection in the USA. These 1500+ objects range from ancient Egypt to nineteenth-century Japan, but at their heart are the suits of steel armor from medieval and Renaissance Europe.
From 1931 to 2013, the Higgins Collection was on view at Worcester’s Higgins Armory Museum. Since 2014, the collection has been at the Worcester Art Museum, where we are currently working to create a dedicated Arms and Armor gallery to display them.
What Can I See?
Over a hundred objects from the collection are currently on view, including five full suits of armor. Several suits are on display in WAM’s paintings galleries, and ancient armor can be seen in our Greek and Roman galleries. In our Medieval Galleries you can explore Arms and Armor Open Storage, featuring highlights from the collection from across the centuries and around the world. Here you can also try on a helmet or heft a sword to feel what these objects were really like.
In a few years, we will have the entire Higgins Collection on view in a dedicated Arms and Armor Gallery.
Armor in the Galleries
View suits of armor and other Higgins objects along with other works from the cultures that produced them.
Discover for yourself: blade weapons, arms of the Samurai, staff weapons, curiosities of arms and armor, and more.
The Medieval World
See medieval arms and armor side-by-side with stained glass, stonework, and paintings from the Middle Ages.
What Can I Do?
In addition to the gallery displays, WAM offers a wide range of programs where you can learn more about arms and armor, and even experience firsthand what it was like to wear armor or wield a sword.
Through live, virtual demonstrations, learn about the development of armor and how it worked.
Costumed Interpretive Presentations*
Encounter costumed Roman, Viking, and Medieval presenters to learn about the arms and armor of their time.
Arms & Armor Art Cart*
Assisted by an Educator, discover reproduction armor pieces and see for yourself how armor worked.
* Due to state and local guidelines related to COVID-19 and group gatherings, as well as our concern for the safety and comfort of our patrons and staff, these live presentations and hands-on activities are suspended until further notice.
View the Collection Online
The entire Higgins Collection can be accessed through WAM’s online collection search.