Worcester Art Museum Awarded $280K for Programs, Operations
Worcester Art Museum

October 4, 2020 — The Worcester Art Museum in Worcester last week announced it recently received two grants totaling $280,000 to support a new arms and armor gallery, teen programming, and operations relief.

The awards include $250,000 from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to fund the design and development phase for the long-term installation of the John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection of arms and armor; $30,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in support of Teen Arts at WAM programming

“This financial support for the Worcester Art Museum benefits all corners of our community by helping us transform lives with enriching programming,” said Matthias Wishek, director of the Worcester Art Museum (WAM). “We are grateful for this timely public support and confidence in our mission to connect people, communities, and cultures through the experience of art.”

WAM said it plans to open an Arms and Armor gallery by the end of 2023, displaying nearly its 2,000-object collection in a combination of gallery displays and open storage. WAM said the new gallery will emphasize accessibility and accommodate different learning styles, empowering visitors of diverse ages, backgrounds, and abilities to curate their own experience in exploring the stories behind these objects.

Acquired in 2014 when the Higgins Armory Museum closed, the Higgins Armory Collection at WAM is the second largest of its kind in the Americas, next only to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Comprised of arms, armor, and metalwork from around the world and from antiquity to the 19th century, the collection is particularly known for its rare grouping of suits of plate armor from 15th- to 17thcentury Europe.

WAM to Re-Open Oct. 7

WAM will re-open to the general public on Oct. 7 after closing March 13 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. WAM will control access by issuing advance tickets for groups up to five people who must enter the museum during a particular 30-minute period. Face masks will be required for visitors age 5 and over.

The re-opening follows similar action by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which opened its doors to the public on Sept. 26. Advance time-entry tickets are required; no tickets are sold on site.

Four other major Massachusetts museums—The Clark Institute in Williamstown, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in Boston, Mass MOCA in North Adams, and the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge—re-opened during the summer. The Clark recommends, but does not require, entry at a preferred time while the other three nonprofits issue advance time-entry tickets.

Founded in 1896, WAM has assembled a collection of 38,000 objects: from the ancient Near East and Asia, to European and American paintings and sculptures, and continuing with works by contemporary artists from around the world. In 2014, the museum acquired the John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection, comprising two thousand arms and armor objects.