Armour at the War Museum: Preserving What Makes Us Stronger

In the chromatic lighting of the War Museum special exhibition gallery, suits of armour stand shoulder to shoulder with bullet-proof vests, hockey pads, and costumes from notorious science fiction characters.

So often in war, the focus is rightly on the damage done to groups and individuals. If this exhibit proves anything, it’s that our view of armour is more narrow than is typically understood.

Armour, presented by the Canadian War Museum until September 3rd, examines the history and impact of protective gear on civilizations and their culture.

There is a strong nod to the Renaissance in the gallery, thanks to the generous collaboration with the Museo Stibbert of Florence, Italy and the Contemporanea Progetti. The collection was primarily amassed by Frederick Stibbert in the 19th century, whose passion for restoration and organization of art, weapons, and armour from the medieval era onwards greatly benefitted later historians.

Generations of weaponry adorn the walls alongside Italian helmets inspired from early Roman cavalry, demonstrating that appearances were just as important as functionality when creating the right piece to represent what your nation was fighting for.

Armour is more than just garments that keep us safe; it is also speaks to the preservation of history, once their original caretakers had no more need for them.

Protecting one’s body wasn’t always a life or death situation, in fact, it could be a lot of fun! Athletic equipment nowadays may not resemble the plated armour of the last millennium, but while sports such as hockey aren’t as dangerous as jousting, it’s still important for us to protect ourselves from harm.

Fashion plays a large role in how we define our society, and the way we dress our fictional characters influences the way we view our future, too.

In the gallery you’ll find an array of familiar costumes from our favourite movies and popular culture, some you can even try on yourself!

There’s so much more to see at this exhibit, and perhaps the most interesting part is that every sword, every helmet, and every bulletproof vest has a story to share.