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  • WAM Medieval and Armor Tour and Educational Activities

    medieval tour at wam

    The Worcester Art Museum recently acquired the John Woodman Higgins Collection of Arms and Armor in 2014, providing exciting new learning opportunities for students. Enhance your student's tour of the Medieval Galleries by adding an arms and armor presentation and/or hands-on workshop to your visit.

    The Story of Armor and the Knightly World Tour

    Part 1: The Ancient Heritage

    (Near East, Greek, Roman Galleries and the Renaissance Court) Over a period of millennia, the peoples of the Mediterranean built a cultural heritage that reached its height in the Roman Empire-a vast, multicultural state with a remarkably modern infrastructure of administration, commerce, and military organization. The wealth and sophistication of this society is visible in its material remains. In the 15th and 16th centuries, these material remains from the Roman Empire would inspire the Renaissance in Europe. (MA Standards: HSS 7.39, 7.42, 7.43 / WHI 6C / VA 6-10)

    Part 2: Those Who Pray

    (Chapter House and Medieval Galleries) With the collapse of the Roman Empire, Europe fell into a period of political and economic chaos. In the Museum's Chapter House, you stand in the heart of one of the monasteries that preserved Roman culture through the Dark Ages. In medieval culture and society, the Church played an important central role. (MA Standards: HSS 7.41 / WHI 6C, 7 A+B / VA 6-10)

    Part 3: Those Who Fight

    (Medieval and Renaissance Galleries) The armored knight was the superstar of medieval culture. For over 500 years the armored horseman dominated the battlefields of Europe. Here you will see in person the arms and armor that he wore on the battlefield and in courtly celebrations. Discover how the armor's appearance and fashion were as important as its protective function. (MA Standards: HSS 7.29-7.33 / WHI 7 B-E, 9-12 / VA 6-10)

    Part 4: Those Who Work

    (Medieval and Renaissance Galleries) Nine out of ten people in the Middle Ages were peasants, whose labor supported both clergy and knights. For most of the Middle Ages the role of the church was to protect the souls of the people, while knights protected their physical well-being. All served the Sovereign. However, the common folk often lived under the thumb of both classes, clergy and knights, who took advantage of their higher social status. As the Middle Ages gave way to the Renaissance, the role of the common people gained importance. (MA Standards: WHI 7 B+C / VA 9, 10)

    Part 5: Rebirth and Globalization

    (Renaissance and 17th-Century Remastered Galleries) Inventions like the printing press and oceangoing ships brought new dynamism and wealth to Europe. Also with the rise of Humanism, art became both more realistic and more inclusive of scenes of everyday people and life. Art was not just focused on the religious or on the wealthy anymore. Gunpowder weapons brought new potential for power, while also undermining the old feudal order and recalculating power equations both in Europe and around the globe. On the battlefields of Europe, the common infantryman came to dominate, overshadowing the armored cavalryman. The old titled nobility mixed with the new mercantile aristocracy to become the leaders of this new world both on and off the battlefield. (MA Standards: WHI 29, 30, 33-35, WHII 1/VA 6-10)

    Part 6: Traveling the Silk Road

    (Asian Galleries) At the eastern end of Eurasia, China maintained a rich and powerful culture throughout the Middle Ages, having survived the same invasions that brought an end to the Roman Empire in the West. Caravans of horses and camels brought Asian silks and spices to an eager market in Europe, eventually drawing men like Marco Polo to visit the Far East. (MA Standards: WHI 4C+D, 23, 24/VA 9, 10)

    Additional Medieval Educational Activities

    Complement your tour with one of these great activities:

    Gallery/Studio Workshops

    A hands-on experience guided by Museum instructors, students can work in clay, paint, collage, printmaking, or other materials. Our amazing studio experience gives your students the chance to take their new insights into the studio and create their own artwork. We will help you select the best presentation and/or hands-on project for your students to meet your educational goals and framework objectives - and to send them home with something they can treasure forever! Suggested studio projects: Shields, Aluminum Tooling, Greek Vases, Egyptian Cartouches, Roman Mosaics, Portraiture, and Landscape Painting.

    Click here for additional information about Gallery Studio Workshops

    Arms and Armor Presentations

    Enhance your student's tour of the Medieval Galleries with a live arms and armor presentation. Topics for presentations include Knight's Tale, Gothic Knight, Arming a Knight*, and more. You and your students can also explore exciting programs highlighting the Roman Soldier, The Viking Age, King Arthur: Myth versus Reality, or Aethelflaed: Lady of the Mercians with a unique focus on women during the Viking age. And, coming this spring, we will offer the Feudal Knight focusing on the knight of the High Middle Ages!

    Click here for additional information about Arms and Armor Program Topics

    Scheduling Your Visit

    Please call 508.793.4338 at least four weeks in advance to arrange your workshop.
    Fees include gallery admission for a tour prior to workshop.

    Options and Fees

    Tour (60 minute)

    $5 per student

    Tour + Workshop (60 to 90 minute)

    1 - 12 students / $195
    13-24 students / $235

    Tour + Workshop (2 hours)

    1 - 12 students / $215
    13-24 students / $255

    Tour + Armor Presentation

    1 - 12 students / $130
    13-24 students / $170

    Tour + Armor Presentation + Workshop
    (90 minute to 2 hour combination)

    1 - 12 students / $255
    13-24 students / $295

    Please note there are additional materials fees are charged for clay, mosaics, or acrylic paints.
    *Additional $50 fee for the Arming a Knight, Arms and Armor presentation.


    Please contact our Tour Coordinator at 508.793.4338 or 508.793.4335.

    More Information

    You may be able to fund your Museum experience with a Massachusetts Cultural Council PASS or Local Cultural Council grant. Contact the MCC at 1.800.232.0960 or massculturalcouncil.org for more information.

    Click here for more information about Public Tours
    Click here for additional information about Group Tours