Possibly the most gorgeous exhibit put on by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art since I’ve been living here.
Samurai. Everyone loves Samurai…especially in the movies.
They’ve been a source of Western fascination, at least since the release of 1954’s The Seven Samurai, only one of the most copied movies in cinematic history.
The idea of an exclusive, disciplined, honor-bound warrior class has leaked its way into all manner of fiction and fantasy. Meanwhile, in Japan, they remain a vital part of their history, even though their days as a political and ruling power died about the time President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865.
For years, LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), on the top floor of its Japanese Art Pavilion, has displayed a black suit of Samurai Armor, along with a Katana. It’s a popular attraction, attracting the young and the young at heart.
Yeah, that’d be me.
But a private collection of Samurai Armor has made it’s way to LACMA, in an arresting and visually stunning exhibit: Japanese Armor from the collection of Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller.
From the LACMA Website:
The Samurai Collection of Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller, one of the finest and most comprehensive collections in the world, presents a treasure trove of battle gear made for high-ranking warriors and daimyo (provincial governors) of the 14th through 19th centuries. The exhibition illustrates the evolution of samurai equipment through the centuries, featuring more than 140 objects of warrior regalia, with full suits of armor, helmets and face guards, weapons, horse trappings, and other battle gear.
At this point, words pretty much fail. You will see a number of Armors from varying eras.
Remember, we’re not talking movie costumes or recreations, this is a display of Samurai Armor worn by actual Samurai.
My recommendation is to come down to the exhibit (even the pictures on display here don’t do it justice), get some tickets, and take one of the guided tours. The Docents at LACMA are excellent and will fill you in on a hundred details you might otherwise miss.
There’s a second part of the exhibit running concurrently in the Pavilion of Japanese Art. It features weapons and some art of the Samurai Era. Make sure you make that a part of your visit as well.
This exhibit won’t be in town forever. Then after that, we’re left with the one suit of Black Armor up int he Japanese Pavilion. So see it today!
Japanese Armor from the collection of Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller ran through February 1st ,2015.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: This is a popular exhibit. Entry Tickets will be timed, so mind the time and get in line if you have to.
Photography (as you can see) is permitted in the exhibition, but no flash photography is allowed. I saw a lot of people trying their best with Smartphone cameras. All I can say is…if you go that route stay veeeeeeeery still.
There is a dedicated Museum Store directly to the back of the exhibit and behind a black curtain. The Guards will be able to point you in the right direction.
PARKING: Fantastically easy, but pricey. LACMA has a massive underground Garage that you can roll into for Ten Bucks (as a Member). I’d recommend it no matter the price because it is underground, and your car won’t bake as you’re touring the classics. But there is street parking available nearby.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90036
Mon-Tue, Thu: 12–8pm