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The Museum's collection provides a good overview of arms and armor from the 15th through the 18th century. Arms and armor were not only necessary equipment for military figures, but were highly prized objects that personified bravery, chivalry, and skill. They were used in war, for hunting, in sporting competitions such as jousts and foot combats, and as splendid bodily accessories for parades or courtly occasions. The prestigious role of arms and armor meant that artists were often commissioned to transform them into objects of great splendor. Craftsmanship, techniques of fabrication, and ornament link arms and armor to other decorative arts of the 15th through the 18th century.

The current installation in the Museum Level 1 Galleries features more than 50 examples of arms and armor comprising helmets and suits of armor; spears and polearms; swords and daggers; rifles, guns, and pistols. Some highlights of the collection are a 15th century German sallet helmet, a pair of 16th century gilt bronze stirrups from the Habsburg armory, and a 17th century Italian powder tester, which is one of the finest examples known.

View our Arms and Armor Collection


David Conradsen is the Grace L. Brumbaugh and Richard E. Brumbaugh associate curator of decorative arts and design. David holds a M.A. in Early American Culture from the University of Delaware/Winterthur Program. He has been with the Saint Louis Art Museum since 1994.

David recently co-organized the exhibition St. Louis Modern which explored midcentury modern design in the St. Louis region. He is a contributing author of the St. Louis Modern exhibition catalogue, and author of the exhibition catalogues Useful Beauty: American Decorative Arts from St. Louis Collections and University City Ceramics: Art Pottery of the American Woman's League. He also has contributed an essay on early exhibitions and collections of Newcomb Pottery to The Art & Craft of Newcomb Pottery, published by Tulane University in 2012. In the Museum galleries, David has recently curated reinstallations of architectural elements by Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and George Grant Elmslie, and 18th-century English pottery from the collection.

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