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The Samurai invade the Kimbell Art Museum

Bobby Blakey

All over the world each country has their own histories that have shaped who their people have come to be, but sadly most of this rich history doesn’t reach beyond the shores or into the minds of most people. Thankfully we have places like Ft. Worth’s Kimbell Art Museum to keep these important aspects of the world alive and on display for those with an open mind to learn more. Japan is one of those countries that has so much rich and amazing history that it has stepped into the American mindset through martial arts, films, and art.

Of all of their history it is that of the Samurai that seems to intrigue the masses across the board and thanks to the Kimbell Art Museum and the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Muller Collection you can finally step into the world of these amazing warriors like never before. This collection features over 140 pieces that are beautifully displayed and organized that it will immerse you into their world and if you allow it will take you on a journey throughout the 12th to 19th-entury of Japan. Seeing these pieces in person would be amazing enough, but the attention to detail and respect that was put into this exhibit is second to none. Most of these types of exhibits like to focus more on the weaponry, which is fine, but this one showcases complete armor and the culture that gives it so much more meaning. As you walk through this exhibit you are taken on a journey through time with individual suits of complete armor in glass cases randomly placed throughout the room that allows a 360 degree view and the ability to get close enough to see every single stitch. Other pieces are spread out in larger cases breaking down the undergarments and miscellaneous accessories that accompanied them at any time. While the armor itself is both elegant and beautiful, the real treat comes in the display of helmets that are so creative and well-crafted that it is amazing to imagine the talent of the individuals that made them. There are aspects to the various helmet designs that tell a story and will baffle you on why some choices were made that in turn makes the mystery of this time that much more intriguing.

It’s amazing to look at these pieces so closely and to not only see the amount of detail that went into every aspect of each piece, but to think about the way that they would have had to do the work at that time. Knowing that they didn’t have the technology to create these helmets and armor is unthinkable when you see the amount of detail they put into them. One of the most impressive displays comes in the form of three life-sized horses that not only feature the fully armored Samurai rider, but also sport their own armor that is like nothing you have likely seen before.

There are a lot of people who just have no interest in history or art, but when an exhibit like this comes along that features both it should be seen by all. It is rare to get to see this many complete pieces of authentic armor outside of books or the silver screen so do not waste this chance to look upon the history of true warriors that put their own history, families, respect, and honor above all else.

Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-­‐Mueller Collection runs through August 31st at the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth.

For more information on the Kimbell Art Museum and the Samurai exhibit head over to

For more information on The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum head over to

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