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Collecting Cultures

Pulse rifle from the film 'Aliens'

We encounter arms and armour on a regular basis in films, television, literature and art. These elaborate props and costumes can inspire and intrigue us.

Through the Collecting Cultures project, we seek to explore, extend and maximise the impact of the national collection of arms and armour using fantastic items of arms and armour made famous by popular culture.

Project Overview

‘Collecting Cultures: Arms and Armour in Popular Culture’ has been supported with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players, our project seeks to look at arms and armour through the lens of popular culture, which is increasingly the gateway through which the public are exposed to the subject.

Expanding on existing collections, such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy swords, 'James Bond' firearms and a 'vampire killing kit', we will acquire a capsule collection to present a more familiar ‘filter’ through which our audiences can view the subject of arms and armour. We hope that this will in-turn empower and encourage new audiences to explore our existing collections with greater confidence and understanding.

We will be looking to acquire a selection of ‘star’ pieces, mainly from major film releases as well as production-used and screen-used examples of blank-converted and prop items. In addition, we will seek to procure supporting archive material in the form of concept art, armourer’s drawings, and written and oral testimonies relating to the objects as well as to the films themselves.

As well as expanding our collections, we will deliver a programme of public and staff engagement on the theme of arms and armour in popular culture. Through internal and external workshops and activities, we aim to explore the academic significance of these objects, and in turn better inform the wider public of their importance and relevance.

Collecting Cultures Highlights