Did you know that The Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum in Dallas, Texas was created to hold the Japanese armor collection owned by the Barbier-Mueller family? And since everything is bigger in Texas, the couple made sure to put together the largest private collection of samurai armor outside of Japan. Now, the museum is lending some of their fantastic pieces to be displayed at the Bellagio, including full suits, helmets, and weaponry. The samurai were the military nobility of early-modern Japan and are noted, among many things, for their impressive war tactics and battle technology, including the creation of a uniquely powerful and strong sword called the katana. On display are pieces dating as far back as the 14th century -- it’s a walk through 600 years of history covering the evolution of the ruling class of Japan.
One of the first things you’ll notice as you’re exploring the Samurai exhibit has to be the incredible real-to-life-size horse and rider, fully decked in armor. It’s an awe-inspiring sight, and one that instantly allows your imagination to transport you to another place and time, far from the neon lights outside. You’ll also see full-sized battle-ready figures in exceptional red and gold armor, a stunning display.
For those of us with some foreknowledge of samurai, one of the first images to come to mind is likely the impressive helmets the warriors wore. At the Samurai exhibit you’ll learn about the history of these magnificent protective pieces known as kabuto. Throughout the exhibit you can observe how they evolve in materials and aesthetic. They were traditionally made out of iron and crafted into unique shapes. Make sure to look out for the 15th century seashell, rhinoceros, and axe head shapes that made these helmets something truly spectacular.