Arts of War

Artistry in Weapons across Cultures

October 18, 2014 through October 18, 2017

 Artistry in Weapons across Cultures

War is a persistent attribute of human cultures through time, and weapons are crafted with a practical, and deadly, intent. Nearly as pervasive as war itself, is the practice of decorating objects used to wage it. Arts of War: Artistry in Weapons across Cultures is a new Peabody Museum exhibition that presents the varied beauty and craftsmanship of war objects drawn from cultures around the world. From maces, clubs, daggers, and spears, to shields, helmets, and entire suits of armor, this exhibition offers museum-goers more than 150 striking examples of weapons that are also extraordinary works of art.

What would compel a warrior to deliberately imbue his weapon with beauty that stands in such stark contrast to its intended purpose? And why are war objects so much more common and elaborately decorated than those crafted for peace-making? Arts of War: Artistry in Weapons across Cultures probes intriguing questions, unveils the stories behind some of the most stunning war objects ever created, and explores the passion and purpose of the people who made them.

Arts of War: Artistry in Weapons across Cultures opens to the public Saturday, October 18 at 9:00 AM at Harvard University's Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, 11 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, Mass. It will remain on view through October 18, 2017.

Curated by Steven LeBlanc, Ph.D., archaeologist and Director of Collections (retired), Peabody Museum.

Related Arts of War Concert, December 10, 2014 at 8:00 PM, preceded by free evening hours in the gallery

Related online exhibition  See objects up close

Download the exhibition opening poster (letter-size)