I recently got sent to Leeds, to become a roving reporter for Coaching for Geeks, where I attended the preview opening on the new Make Believe Exhibition at the Royal Armouries. The Armouries are trying new ways to engage with people and bring them into the museum, which is odd as they have 40,000 weapons – how is that not doing it?
Royal Armouries – The Venue
I spent a few hours (okay 13 to be honest – don’t hate me cos you ain’t me) wandering around the museum before the event, and there is a huge amount stuff to look at, hold, experience and watch.
The new refurbed cafe on the ground floor is much better and had a great range of food. I had breakfast and lunch there.
It is a great day out. For the geeks amongst us, the new exhibition is a great eye-opener and you get so see lots of movie props, which in and of themselves are cool, but the armouries have tried to match them against the ‘real world’ examples in the museum.
Royal Armouries – The Launch, The Lowdown
The exhibition launch itself was interesting. Drinks and canapés in the oriental weapons section meant I could wander around looking at weapons while eating popcorn chicken and ice cream. I actually did some peopling too and spoke to some of the museum staff on hand.
There were a few speakers from the museum explaining how the project was born and how the museum has influenced popular culture. One of the stories that stuck in my head was the one that Highlander would never have been made if it wasn’t for the Tower Armoury collection.
The other interesting thing was that Iraqi troops had helmets designed based on Darth Vader’s helmet, as one of Saddam Hussein’s sons was a Star Wars nut. You can see one of the actual helmets in the exhibit. You can’t make this stuff up. They feel the original Darth helmet was a nod to either a samurai kabuto or a German sallet. Personally, I think it is a hat tip to the Samurai as Star Wars was based on Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress.
I also got to fanboy and meet Terry English who is one of the most well-known movie armourers – you will have seen some of his stuff on the screen for sure, and he is a regular at Comic Cons. A really nice guy.
One of the actual prop pieces that blew my mind was the chainmail. I know for years actors wore string mail, as it was lighter and cheaper than actual mail, but now they are 3d printing plastic mail, which is even lighter. There is some on display.
Here are some pictures to prove I was actually there Robin! 🙂
There was a combat showing, which was interesting and entertaining. Lots of swords and other weapons to look at. I won’t ruin all of it for people but would suggest you check it out.
All in all, a good collection and one which I hope grows.
And don’t forget the armouries free to visit – and as I found, you can stay all day 🙂
By Jason Hulott