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Armor of the Samurai at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

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Armor of the Samurai at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

In-Person Program

Weekend All-Day Tour

Sunday, July 14, 2024 - 7:45 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1CD038
Departs from the Holiday Inn Capitol at
550 C St SW (corner of 6th & C Sts)
Fringe: I-95, Exit 158B commuter lot
Select your Registration
Materials for this program

Nimaitachido Tosei Gusoku armor, Muromachi period, ca. 1400 (© The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum, Dallas. Photo: Brad Flowers)

Travel to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond with historian Justin M. Jacobs for an awe-inspiring look at Japan’s exquisitely crafted samurai armor from one of the largest and finest collections in the world. The assembled works from the collection of Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller offer a glimpse of samurai history with a focus on the flourishing culture of the Edo period.

The samurai, whose name means “those who serve,” rose to prominence as masterful swordsmen, archers, and equestrians beginning in the 12th century. During the Edo period (1615–1868), they continued to dominate political, social, and cultural aspects of Japan until their fall in the late 19th century. Celebrated for their bravery and honor in battle, in times of peace the samurai were a prestigious class, and their armor continued to be a symbol of pride and pageantry.

The exhibition of more than 140 objects features full suits of armor and an array of weapons, helmets, masks, horse accessories, woodblock prints, and textiles. A guided tour of the exhibition is the centerpiece of a day that includes time to enjoy the museum’s extensive holdings, including a dazzling Fabergé collection. A three-course sit-down lunch is included.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*

Know Before You Go

  • The tour departs by motorcoach from downtown Washington, DC with a designated secondary pick-up outside the city. Content delivered by the study leader on the way to the destination, after the secondary pick-up, is an integral part of the study tour experience. Meeting the group once the tour is en route is discouraged.
  • Tour participants meet at and leave by bus from the Holiday Inn Capitol, 550 C St., SW (corner of 6th and C Sts., SW), with a pickup stop at the Horner Road commuter lot bus shelter, I-95, Exit 158B, at about 8:10 a.m.

General Information

  • Registration for this tour will end by 2 p.m. ET on Friday, July 12, 2024.
  • Smithsonian Associates is a mask-friendly environment. Please feel free to bring and wear a mask at any time during a tour, both for your safety or the safety of others.
  • As we aim to move away from single use water bottles, guests are strongly encouraged to get in the habit of bringing their own reusable water bottle on tour.
  • For additional tour information:

*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.