Armed & Dangerous: Explorations of Human Culture and the Animal Kingdom

Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield Starts 2010 with a Bang:
Armed & Dangerous: Art of the Arsenal opens January 23

Armed & Dangerous: Art of the Arsenal on display at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA from January 23rd - June 6th, 2010

Berkshire Museum’s upcoming exhibition, Armed & Dangerous: Art of the Arsenal, explores the evolution, function, and craft of weaponry and armor throughout human culture and the animal kingdom. This exhilarating exhibition, drawn primarily from the Museum’s permanent collection, runs from January 23 through June 6.

Man and animals have always been Armed & Dangerous. From the heroic warrior of the legendary past to the modern military soldier, humankind has relied on arms and armor to convey dominance, power, and status. Weapons and armor reflect the evolution of technology, class, mythmaking, and personal identity and have enormous implications for our understanding of changes in human culture.

“The sheer diversity of materials and the exquisite craftsmanship of the weapons on view in Armed & Dangerous is testament to how important weapons are to the people who make and use them,” said director of interpretation at the Berkshire Museum, Maria Mingalone. “From a historical perspective, the exhibition spans centuries and continents, showing how arms and armor illustrate the evolution of technology, and mythmaking. Weapons are a history of the human experience and a great example of how diverse cultures cope with the challenges of conflict and survival.”

Mankind has always created and used weapons and armor in order to fight, protect, and intimidate. Many of these armaments have been inspired by the natural world, where fierce fangs, claws, beaks, and horns are displayed not only to injure or kill other animals, but also to avoid battle through demonstrations of dominance. Armed & Dangerous features the arsenal of the natural world alongside man-made weaponry from a global array of cultures and time periods.

The show includes culturally diverse regalia, including a Sioux war headdress, a Persian horned helmet, Filipino chainmail, plus three full sets of medieval armor and a genuine Samurai suit, all of which display a balance of both fine craftsmanship and protective functionality. Armed & Dangerous also includes weapons developed since the advent of the firearm, such as historic rifles, pistols, and muskets.

The bulk of Armed & Dangerous is drawn from Berkshire Museum’s permanent collection of more than 30,000 objects; many of the artifacts in the exhibition have not been on display for decades. Other significant objects are on loan from the Higgins Armory in Worcester, MA.

  • This exhibition is not meant to glorify combat and violence, but to demonstrate how weapons both reflect the culture that produced them and show changes in warfare and technology over time.
  • The exhibition will include a host of public events, live demonstrations, and educational programs to further illuminate the role of weaponry, technology, and innovation throughout the course of human history.

Armed & Dangerous: Art of the Arsenal runs from January 23 to June 6, 2010. Berkshire Museum, the region’s oldest public cultural institution, is located at 39 South St. on Route 7 in Downtown Pittsfield. For more information, contact Berkshire Museum at (413) 443-7171, ext. 10.


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