Showtime: Dallas

Samurai collection spawns museum, touring exhibit

 

Associated Press

Gabriel Barbier-Mueller bought his first samurai armor about 20 years ago from an antiques dealer in Paris, sparking a fascination that helped him create one of the most significant private collections in the world related to the Japanese warriors.

Although the vast majority of the Texas-based businessman’s pieces come from auction houses, art dealers and collectors, he still relishes visiting small European antiques stores seeking hidden treasures and strolling flea markets, as he adds helmets, weapons and other samurai artifacts that span the centuries.

“Every year starts with: ‘I’ve got everything I need. There’s nothing on the market.’ And somehow you luck out on something, and you discover new things,” said Barbier-Mueller, a Swiss-born real estate developer who opened a samurai museum last year near downtown Dallas.

Part of the collection — now numbering in the hundreds — is on an international tour that began two years ago in Paris and opened this month at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. It will head to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art after the current exhibit ends Aug. 31.

The Kimbell display features more than 140 works including 20 suits of armor, three armors for horses and helmets and weapons from various eras of the samurai.

The entire collection is among the world’s most notable private collections and is only rivaled by a few museums in the United States, said Thom Richardson, deputy master at the Royal Armouries, the United Kingdom’s National Museum of Arms and Armour in Leeds.

The history of the samurai dates back to 792, when Japan stopped conscripting troops and landowners began assembling their own warriors, called samurai. By 1185, warlords ruled in the name of the emperor and clans used their samurai to vie for power. The samurai class was abolished after the emperor again ruled supreme in 1868.

The collection spans enough of the samurai history that one can see the difference in helmets as warfare progresses from bows and arrows to guns, said Jennifer Casler Price, the Kimbell’s curator of Asian and non-Western art. She said helmet designs became more elaborate through the years in order to identify fellow warriors amid the smoke from gunfire.

“They have assembled this really exceptional collection,” she said. “I think people will be rather dazzled.”

A discovery just last year came when Barbier-Mueller, 57, spotted a polished copper ball in a store down a tiny Parisian street and learned it was a mirror samurai used for protection.

“It’s what you would have hung on the ceiling,” he said. “They would travel and they were hosted by people along their journey. If they lay down and looked at that ball, it’s like a 360-degree mirror, so they could have seen anybody coming to attack them.”

•  Kimbell Art Museum: Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection. 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth; 817-332-8451; www.kimbellart.org.

•  Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection. 2501 N. Harwood St., Dallas; 214-965-1032; www.samuraicollection.org.

Read more Travel stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
The village of Penmarch, whose name reflects Brittany’s Celtic past; the word Penmarch means head of a horse in the local Breton, a Celtic language brought to this region in the Middle Ages by Britons migrating to the continent.

    France

    Life at the ‘end of the earth’ in western Brittany

    Do you know where the world ends?

  • The travel troubleshooter

    Resort won’t accept my Travelzoo voucher

    Q: I recently bought a Travelzoo voucher for pet-friendly accommodations at Yosemite Lakes RV Resort. I made a reservation with the resort at the time I purchased the voucher.

  •  
With a rental car, every hilltop town in France is within reach.

    Travelwise

    Renting a car for your European trip

    Even with Europe’s super-efficient public transportation system, there are times when it makes sense to rent a car. Having your own wheels is ideal for getting to more remote or rural places that aren’t covered as well by public transportation: England’s Cotswolds, Norway’s fjord country, Spain’s Picos de Europa mountains, France’s Normandy beaches, Tuscan hill towns.…

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK



  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category