Samurai! The Art Of The Japanese Warrior Comes To Boston

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is showcasing a large collection of samurai armor and art from one of the world’s leading private collections.

Samurai! Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection” opens this Sunday, April 14, and features more than 140 objects, such as this horse and rider. Visitors will learn about the complex typology of these elegant suits and how they developed over time. For example, this horse armor (bagai), horse mask (bamen) and horse tack (bagu) date from the early to mid-Edo period, 17th–18th century. They’re made of leather, gold, fabric, wood, horsehair and lacing. The armor is of the tatehagidō type and dates to the 17th century. It’s made of iron, leather, gold and fur.

Beside numerous suits of armor for men and horses, there are also weapons, military equipment and brilliant silk screens showing samurai in battle. The helmets are especially diverse and were used to show off the wearer’s status and individual identity, and as a way to put fear into the hearts of the enemy.

What’s remarkable about some of these suits of armor is that they were made long after the heyday of the samurai had finished, but Japan’s wealthy elite still hearkened back to the age when their ancestors fought in armor such as this. Europe, of course, went through a similar process of glorifying the medieval knights.

“Samurai! Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection” runs through August 4.

Photograph by Brad Flowers. © The Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum, Dallas. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


Last, Last Minute Valentine Plans that Might Impress

If you are really last minute for what to do for Valentine’s Day, romance and fun is just a museum or botanical garden away depending on where you live. On Wednesday nights, several places are open. Being that this is Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, you might be in luck. Many places have a café or a restaurant so you can have that romantic meal as a bonus. Plus, since each place does have a gift shop and every gift shop I’ve ever been to in a museum or a conservatory has unique things to buy, I’m sure you’ll be able to pick up that special something for your special someone on the way out the door. Pretend that this was part of your plan all along. (On my museum quest I discovered most museums have one night a week when they are open.)

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Take in the Romance of Modernism: Paintings and Sculpture from the Scott M. Black Collection for a Valentine Theme.)

Brigham Young University Museum of Art, Provo, UT (There is a gift shop but unfortunately, no restaurant. If you postpone your visit until the 15th you can catch the opening reception of Paths to Impressionism: French and American Landscape Paintings from the Worcester Art Museum. There are light refreshments and it’s free.

Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, San Juan (Okay, so the site is in Spanish. The museum is open on Wednesday nights and there is a restaurant and a gift shop. The place looks gorgeous.)

Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, OH (One of my favorite places in Columbus. It’s wonderful at night)

Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nicols Arboretum, Ann Arbor, MI (no restaurant, but there is a gift shop)

Austin Children’s Museum, Austin, TX (if for some reason you want to bring your kids with you.)