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Frequently Asked Questions about the Integration of the
Worcester Art Museum and the Higgins Armory Collection

Q: Is it true that the Higgins Armory collection will become part of the Worcester Art Museum?
A: Yes! The core Higgins collection (2,000 objects) will be integrated into WAM's collection. This historic gift will result in a 5% increase in the size of WAM's collection, and provide an opportunity to explore new ways of interpreting these objects in a new context.

Q: When and where can I see the arms and armor collection now and in the future?
A: The Higgins Armory Museum remains open for business with a full line-up of programs and events through December 31, 2013. In the spring of 2014, WAM will open Knights!, an exhibition featuring selections from both the Higgins and WAM collections. Planning is underway to create a permanent home for the arms and armor collection on the current site of WAM's Library. The Library will be moved to another location within the Museum campus. The future new arms and armor space will feature galleries on two levels, with open storage on the lower floor and suits of armor and pieces from WAM's existing collection on the upper floor. Once the new gallery spaces are completed, the entirety of the Higgins arms and armor collection will be on view to the public for the first time in history. WAM does not need to add a costly new wing. We are choosing to reallocate our existing space to better serve the collections and our visitors.

Q: What is open storage?
A: Open storage is an innovative design solution that allows museum visitors to see a large quantity of artwork in a non-traditional exhibition space. Most museums are only able to display a fraction of their holdings in their galleries. Using open storage, WAM will be able to put the entirety of the Higgins arms and armor collection on view to the public.
Click the links below to see examples of open storage in other museums:
Brooklyn Museum
New York Times

Q: Why WAM?
A: The Higgins collection was assembled by Worcester industrialist John Woodman Higgins in the first half of the 20th century. By moving this collection across town to 55 Salisbury Street, the arms and armor collection will remain at home in Worcester. Worcester Art Museum is a financially healthy and sustainable institution that can care for and display this important collection for generations to come. The addition of the Higgins collection to WAM strengthens our capacity to engage new audiences, and our ability to create meaningful and transformative museum experiences for our visitors, particularly children and families. 

Q: What happens to memberships? Are they reciprocal?
A: Yes. From now through December 31, 2013, Members of each museum will be recognized as Members of both institutions with regard to admission. Once Higgins closes, all of its Members will receive full membership benefits at WAM through their expiration date. Higgins will continue to sell its memberships into the fall so that the discounted admission rates and Higgins' special offers and benefits will remain available. Once your Higgins membership expires, you will be invited to become a Member of the Worcester Art Museum.

Higgins Armory Museum will offer the following admission benefits to anyone who presents a current WAM membership card:

Level Benefit
Individual (Regular, Senior, Student) 1 free admission
Household (Regular, Senior) Up to 5 free admissions
Household Plus, Benefactor, Salisbury Up to 8 free admissions
Business Partner Up to 2 free admissions


WAM will offer the following admission benefits to anyone who presents a current Higgins Armory Museum membership card:

Level Benefit
One-Person (Regular, Senior, Student) 1 free admission
Two-Person Up to 2 free admissions
Five-Person Up to 2 free admissions (children free)
Eight-Person, Renaissance, Jouster Up to 3 free admissions (children free)


Q: Why isn't WAM taking over the Higgins Armory Museum building at 100 Barber Avenue?
A: There are three significant reasons:

  1. The Higgins as a stand-alone museum with all of the costs of operating the building is not sustainable.
  2. At WAM, the Higgins collection will be connected with the broader context of world cultures and, therefore, become even more impactful.
  3. We are adding strength to strength by transferring the collection to WAM, moving towards WAM's 2020 Vision.

Q: Will all of the great events and programs that currently happen at Higgins happen at the Museum after the collection moves to WAM?
A: Both institutions have a long history of offering creative and meaningful experiences for their visitors. The integration of the Higgins collection creates an exciting opportunity for the Museum to transform the way we share art with the public, particularly with children and families. Our goal is to offer innovative and experimental programming, making a broadening audience want to come back again and again. We are still in the initial planning stages of programming the arms and armor collection, working closely with and learning from the Higgins Armory Museum, and will keep you posted on what programs we will be offering as we move forward.

Q: How can I support the integration?
A: Visit the Higgins Armory Museum through December 31, 2013 and plan on joining us at WAM in the spring of 2014 for the opening of Knights!

Not a WAM Member? Join, renew, or upgrade your membership level today!

Q: Can I schedule a tour of the Knights! exhibition at WAM?

A: Tours will be available for the Knights! exhibition beginning in Spring 2014. Because the school year is an exciting and busy time with learning and test taking, tour arrangements for the spring can be made now by contacting Jan Ewick, Tour Program Coordinator at 508.793.4338 or




55 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA 01609
(+1) 508-799-4406


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Third Thursdays until 8pm
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