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The Higgins Armory in Worcester, MA
Medieval Suits of Armor
Four Floors Accessible to All
The Higgins Armory museum is located on four floors of a building that has been placed on the U.S. National Register. However, the administration takes great pains to make the collection accessible to everyone who cares to visit:
- There is parking right next to the building.
- For wheelchair patrons, there is a ramp leading straight to the main entrance of the building.
- The Higgins Armory even offers free wheelchairs on a first come, first served basis (though there is a limited number of them - so come early!).
- There are two elevators serving all floors of the building, so wheelchair-bound and others who need to avoid stairs can access any (I recommend all) of the galleries.
- Visually impaired visitors can even arrange ahead for a tactile tour!
Where is the Higgins Armory Museum?
One of the largest collections of medieval armor in the western hemisphere is located here!
The Higgins Medieval Museum Is a Great Place for Kids
The Higgins Armory is a great place for kids. It is accessible and on a small enough scale that you can visit the collection of Ancient Greek and Roman, medieval and Renaissance suits of armor, weapons, headgear, and still have plenty of time to relax and let your kids fully engage in the many activities offered.
The Castle Quest
The Castle Quest is the hands-on portion of kids' Medieval experience at the Higgins Armory Museum. Here, they are allowed to become archers, knights and ladies for as long as their parents will let them hang out here (or until the museum closes).
Fun Facts About the Long Bow
- Long bows were made from the wood of the yew tree.
- The yew wood had to be dried for almost two years to make a long bow.
- Bow strings were made by twisting strands of flax (fiber made from the flax plant) together.
- Arrows were made with wood from the poplar, beech or ash trees.
Get Your Head in the Middle Ages
Kids are encouraged to try on helmets and a chain mail suit, just like the knights of Medieval and Renaissance Europe wore. It is incredible how heavy these things were...knights had to be in tip-top physical shape just to get into their gear, let alone shoot long bows and wield swords or lances!
From Story Hour to Viking Training - Something for Everyone
The Higgins Armory Museum really believes that interactive play is the best way to learn history. For $12 per every adult with one child, the Museum offers the CastleKids Story Hour, complete with a story-related craft, museum admission, and a snack.
This year, the month of March (the month in which International Women's Day is celebrated) is dedicated to the women of the Middle Ages, Women in Armor Month, with Saturday offerings such as a live show about Joan of Arc and programs on the life of average girls of ancient Greece, Rome and the Celtic tribes, the women who acted as "camp followers" of the Roman Legions, and Grace O'Malley (the "Pirate Queen" of the 16th century).
In the evenings, in summer, and over April vacation, the Museum's Academy of the Sword offers training programs and workshops for young people and adults. The Viking Training, for example, meets three times a week (two evenings and one Saturday) to learn and practice historic martial arts techniques based on fight scenes described in the Viking sagas.
Come to Worcester in 2013!
If your vacation plans are still up in the air, please come to Worcester, MA in 2013 and make the Higgins Armory Museum a central part of your plans. Of course, Worcester also offers the Eco-Tarium, the Worcester Museum of Art, Old Sturbridge Village is nearby, and there are many great restaurants and shops, as well. But the Higgins Armory Museum, in its present incarnation, will be closing on December 31st. The collection will remain in Worcester, thanks to a partnership with the Worcester Museum of Art, but, although I'm sure it will still be a great, it will definitely not be the same! Come to Worcester in 2013 and I guarantee your family will relive this vacation for years to come!