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Knights Running Amok at the Worcester Art Museum!

The Higgins Armory Collection is Moving

To anyone who grew up in central Massachusetts, it was heart-breaking to hear the news that the Higgins Armory Museum is closing at the end of 2013. This unique museum showcases one of the most significant collections of arms and armor in the country.

The good news is that the core collection– nearly 2,000 objects – will all move to the Worcester Art Museum, just across town, where they will be on permanent display.

The Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts will remain open through the end of 2013

If you’ve been to the Worcester Art Museum (WAM) you may be wondering where the new collection will possibly go. The plan is to display the works in a 4,000 square foot space presently occupied by the museum’s library (it’s not yet certain where the library will end up, but it may move to the Education Wing).

The main floor of the library – coincidentally part of the Higgins wing of the museum — will display highlights of the collection contextualized with art from WAM’s collection, including a Renaissance tapestry of the Last Judgement that has been hidden away in storage for years. The remainder of the works will be visible in an open storage configuration on the lower level. There will be shelves of helmets and breast plates along with drawers and sliders that the public are all welcome to open holding various swords, spears and other objects all protected under glass.

The Worcester Art Museum is already a leader in art education for all ages, and this is part of the reason for this arrangement. Interactive experiences are an important aspect of the Higgins Armory Museum’s programming that make the museum memorable to children and adults of all ages. Although it is not certain what form these events will take at WAM, the art museum plans to incorporate similar programs at the new location.

The tentative game plan is to set up an exhibition of Higgins material in WAM’s Hiatt Gallery within a month of the Armory’s closing on December 31, 2013. This exhibition will remain up for viewing until all of the objects are installed in their permanent home in the Higgins wing.

I will miss the Higgins in its present form, and I will certainly be taking my 8-year-old there for several more visits between now and December. But I am also excited about the possibilities once arms and armor are housed in the same building with the WAM’s collections of fine art: “Honey if we look at the art and you’re good, we can go see the armory afterwards.”

This potential to attract a more family-oriented audience is just one of the many benefits that Worcester Art Museum is hoping for!

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