Farewell to Arms?

IssueMarch 2007
News by Peter Nias

A new exhibition by the Peace Museum in Bradford, which challenges existing thinking, has been opened in the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

Entitled Farewell to Arms?, it is the result of the two museums working together. The Armouries - a national museum showing swords, guns and armour in history - wanted to go beyond the display of weapons of war. The Peace Museum in Bradford wanted to take the opportunity of challenging a wider audience on the place of such weapons in the world. The Armouries paid for and housed the exhibition, while the Peace Museum had complete control over the content.

Mixed messages?

This permanent exhibition was opened in November in a smallish space on the second floor of the large Armouries building. It contains photos and text, film and artefacts, all geared to the central theme. The exhibition motif is entwined rifles with their barrels curved together into a heart shape. The title has a metre-long sword bent into an “f”. A DVD shows a blacksmith bending the sword to shape.

The exhibition takes visitors on from the artefactual violence of the main museum, to exploring swords into ploughshares, actually and metaphorically. It remains to be seen how the visitors perceive that message.

Topics: Culture