Weapons: Beyond the Blade FAQ


What’s the purpose of Weapons: Beyond the Blade? Why would you choose such a controversial topic for an exhibition?
Weapons: Beyond the Blade was created to highlight items from the Museum’s anthropology and history collections, most of which have never been on display, that help us tell important stories. We also wanted to create a thematic exhibition that had a broad narrative. The exhibit provides a historical overview of the various uses and meanings of weapons, including and beyond their role as objects of hostility. It explores evolving technologies, art, innovation, and both personal and cultural identities. In Weapons: Beyond the Blade, you will learn how weapons came to be, how weapons were inspired by nature, and how they have shaped and defined history.

While this exhibit does not sensationalize violence, it does address an important topic that resonates both locally and globally. Part of MPM’s mission is to inspire curiosity about our world’s natural and cultural diversity. One way we do this is to put on exhibitions, like Weapons: Beyond the Blade, that can foster a deeper understanding of our shared past. It is our hope that highlighting the history of weapons will lead to a greater perspective of the complexity of history and spark dialogues about the human condition in the past and the present.


What’s in the exhibit?
Weapons: Beyond the Blade contains cultural and historical artifacts from over 50 countries dating from as early as 10,000 BCE to today. Selections include art, armor, shields, bows, arrows, polearms, knives, swords, clubs, spears, and much more. (Even ladies’ hatpins are included!)


Are there firearms in the exhibit?
Out of the 188 objects in the exhibition, five are firearms from the 14th, 16th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. There is no ammunition in these pieces.


Who should see this exhibition?
Anyone interested in human or natural history. Sub-themes relate to many areas including Anthropology, Art History, Ethnic Studies, Gender, Material Science, Military history, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, and Religion.


Is Weapons: Beyond the Blade appropriate for children or does it contain displays of graphic violence or blood?
MPM believes that every parent knows their child best and should make that decision for their family. There are no graphic displays of violence or blood in the exhibit.


Can you take photographs in the exhibit?
Yes, personal photography is permitted. Use of camera extension devices (spotlights, tripods, monopods, selfie sticks, etc.) is prohibited.


Can I bring in my antique weapons to have them appraised by your experts?
No. Personal weapons are not permitted on MPM property for any reason. The IRS also does not allow museums to provide appraisals for monetary value.