Last Look

The big reveal

A suspenseful opening at the Peabody Museum.

Mark Zurolo ’01MFA

Mark Zurolo ’01MFA

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The announcement was made. The tension mounted. Then, after weeks of discussion that followed on years of speculation, on November 7, the Yale Peabody Museum, in partnership with the Barnum Museum, opened the mystery box—12 years after the Barnum had received it from another museum. Inside? Pretty much what everyone guessed was going to be inside (thanks to a samurai family crest adorning the outside): a full set of samurai armor, with pieces dating from various periods between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. (Here, a curator lifts out the helmet.) The Barnum had refrained from opening the box for fear of damaging the contents, so Yale assembled a team of experts to perform the operation as part of a broader exhibit on samurai.

The armor was in good condition. But after all, says the exhibit’s lead curator, Fabian Drixler ’02MA, “many suits of samurai armor came out of their boxes just once a year, to be put on display in an alcove to remind the owners of their family history.” He compares them to “fantastically expensive plastic Christmas trees.”

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