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James W




Location: Kentucky
Joined: 07 Dec 2010
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PostPosted: Sun 26 Aug, 2012 6:44 pm    Post subject: The Art Institute of Chicago and my thoughts         Reply with quote

I went to the Art Institute of Chicago yesterday with my family. I like classical art but my main reason for the visit was to see the arms and armoury exhibit.  After waiting in a 25 minute line to get in the door, I told the wife and daughter that I was going to head to the section.  I would meet back up with them later. 

It took me several minutes to find the exhibit space. It is literally in a corner and consists of a stairwell and a room. The back of the room also houses the renaissance jewelry display.   The exhibit consisted of  approximately 4 suits of armor,  10 to 15 pole arms of German, Italian, and European origin, a couple of tapestries and one marble bust of man in armor.  The only swords on display were  two crossed behind a shield hung on the wall in the stairwell.  There is one scale cannon in the stairwell also. 

I have to say I was disappointed.  The materials displayed were great works but few in number.  I went to the shop and asked for a book showcasing the collection. The only thing they had was a small collection of postcards in booklet form.   I left feeling like it is a collection trapped in an institution that no longer really supports it.  
 
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Kevin Coleman M.




PostPosted: Sun 26 Aug, 2012 6:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You know, that hall was the only real reason I ever made the trip downtown to the Art Institute (I just loathe downtown Chicago.) And I can tell you, it's really come down. There used to be a lot more on display, if my memory serves, prior to their renovations. Now much of it is likely crated and, god forbid, rusting away. The last time I was there, that area had been transformed almost into a children's exhibit, with brass plaques to make rubbings from a la Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and plate and chain gauntlets one could try on. That is all well and good for the kids, but I was expecting something more extensive. It is my understanding, after all, that their collection wasn't the smallest. All in all, I was so disappointed, that I have yet to return.
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Greg Mele
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Location: Chicago, IL USA
Joined: 20 Mar 2006

Posts: 356

PostPosted: Mon 27 Aug, 2012 10:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Honestly, if the curator could box it all up and still keep drawing funds from the Harding Collection's trust, she would - there has not been a dedicated arms and armour curator there for well over a decade now, and the second largest collection in North America is sitting in backrooms with some amazing pieces, including two pig-faced bascinets, sitting off of display...
Greg Mele
Chicago Swordplay Guild
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Ryan S.





Joined: 04 May 2012

Posts: 132

PostPosted: Mon 27 Aug, 2012 2:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I feel like most museums are for children, but then again as a child I would love weapons in an art museum. I still do, but now I would also look at the paintings.
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Sean Flynt
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Joined: 21 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Mon 27 Aug, 2012 2:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wonder if this makes them more open to research access.

You can see part of their collection in my "Visitor's Experience" piece for this site, but I think they were reducing their display even then. http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_visit_aic.html

Note the catalog title at the end. It's in the form of an introduction to the field, and not exactly lavishly illustrated, but you can still find it used for as little as $6. http://www.myArmoury.com/books/item.0865591431.html

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Iagoba Ferreira





Joined: 15 Sep 2008

Posts: 153

PostPosted: Tue 28 Aug, 2012 12:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Usually, if the armory is part of a bigger collection, the museum just keeps it in a corner...specially if they have a good fine arts section.

In Pamplona, I will visit a temporary exhibition just to see two XIVth century swords, two painted saddles from the same century, and the "Grand Bascinet" from the cathedral...all of them are usually in storage in the same museum.

PS: They had a curator ten years ago? Exceptuating the Real Armerķa, none of the Spanish armoury collections that I know had this luck. "It's something"
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