Higgins Armory in Worcester, MA is a great museum filled with arms and armor from the days of knights. While its impressive collection ("The only museum in the Western Hemisphere dedicated to the collection of arms, armor and art.") is reason enough to visit, this past Saturday (May 21) we had an additional enticement--it was the museum's third annual Star Wars Day! Sure, it was also "Judgement Day" and/or "The Rapture", but that didn't deter us in the least. In addition to all the great historical arms and armor from our own planet usually on display, it was a chance to see weapons, armor and characters from "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."
The Little Monster has a love/hate relationship with people in big costumes, such as team mascots, Disney World characters and the like (she calls them all "Characters"). This has caused some issues when we go to sporting events. She loves that there are giant six-foot-tall sharks, cats, dogs and other creatures walking around and knows they're supposedly friendly, but when they get too close and it becomes possible to interact with them (get an autograph, take a picture with them, give them a high-five...) she gets a little scared. While The Monster has watched and enjoyed the original Star Wars trilogy (I haven't seen any reason to expose her to the second, Jar Jar Binks-riddled trilogy yet) I wasn't exactly sure how she'd react to actually meeting characters from the movies.
Anyway, I just found out that Star Wars Day at Higgins Armory would be taking place a few days beforehand. The Little Monster has just missed meeting characters from Star Wars (mainly Stormtroopers) at local events on a number of occasions where I either didn't know about their appearances until it was too late, or because we already had some other commitment when they were going on. It became imperative that we make it to THIS one.
Imperial forces mingle with visitors at the entrance to the museum
When we pulled into the Higgins Armory parking lot around 11:00 we saw a long line of people waiting to get in and to meet/greet the characters out front. With the help of a free pass we were able to walk past the line and enter the museum (after snapping a few photos with various members of the Imperial forces). Funny how it seems that the vast majority of the characters who show up for these events are from the Imperial (Bad Guys) side rather than the Rebel (Good Guy) side. I suppose part of that is because the vast majority of the Imperial force is made up of helmeted and armored personnel that fans enjoy dressing up as. And, to be fair, I also suppose that the Clone Troops from the second trilogy would be considered good guys more than bad guys (at least up to a certain point). That could all get kind of confusing... Anyway, let's look at the photos.
The Little Monster poses with a Snow Trooper and an Imperial Scout
The Little Monster and Monster Dad with an Imperial Death Star gunner
A special moment for Monster Dad as the Imperial Scout holds up Monster Dad's very own 1977-era Stormtrooper that he played with as a Monster Kid!
Inside the museum's entrance we met up with Queen Amidala. The Little Monster does enjoy such "girlish" things as princesses and ponies in addition to Monster Kid-type stuff, so she was happy to see a female character dressed up as a "princess". In fact, I made the mistake of saying "Hey, do you want me to get a picture of you with the Princess?" before correcting myself and saying "...I mean the Queen". Looks like my Geek license may have to be revoked! Well, to top it off, after I apologized for the gaffe, Queen Amidala said to me: "Actually, Senator would also be acceptable." Well, whatever the right title, we did indeed get the photo.
The Little Monster with Queen/Senator Amidala
Next, we went up to the fourth floor and actually checked out some of the museum's regular offerings. Normally this collection would be the whole reason to come to the museum (and it really is a place that anyone interested in knights, armor and weapons from Medieval times to the Renaissance really should visit), but today this awesome collection was merely a sidelight.
A really cool-looking Japanese dragon statuette
Just a few of the many suits of armor on display at the museum
Some helmets from days long gone by
While we were on the fourth floor balcony overlooking the Great Hall, we took in a Light Saber demonstration. The museum regularly has talks and demonstrations about armor and swords throughout the day, but today's demonstrations were mainly Star Wars-related, of course.
The "Jedi Master" introduces the demonstration
Old-school style sword fight, but with Light Sabers
I didn't get many photos of the Great Hall itself, but here's a couple pics from the "diorama" (for lack of a better, more impressive word) of two mounted knights engaged in a joust:
Note the Light Saber in the background as the demonstration continues
There is also a newer exhibit on the second floor (at least this was the first time I've seen it--though I haven't been to the museum for quite a few years) called the Department of Curiosities. This is a fascinating place filled with fantastic (and fictional) artifacts, creatures and other things from an imaginary world. It looks like something out of a Jules Verne book.
A cool-looking flying contraption among the items in the Department of Curiosities
Dragon heads mounted on the wall
Imaginative diving suit and another dragon
The skeleton of a young Centaur
This refrigerated creature made The Little Monster (and Monster Dad too) think of the Abominable Snowman--of course
And we could only wonder about the size of the creature that belonged to this skeletal hand
Getting back to Star Wars, outside of the Department of Curiosities we found Boba Fett with his own Personal Assistant (an Imperial officer) guiding him amongst adoring fans.
For a ruthless bounty hunter, Boba Fett was pretty good about signing autographs for his young fans
That's a bit more like what you'd expect a photo of Boba Fett to look like!
The Little Monster with Boba Fett
After having seen most of what there was to see (you can't really see everything in the museum in single visit), and with the Little Monsters showing signs of tiredness, we decided to head down to the gift shop before going home.
Photo-op with a non-StarWars-related character in the gift shop
A new look for The Little Monster!
And then, as we left we encountered even more Star Wars denizens on the way out the door! My wife informed me that we just missed C-3PO, who was heading upstairs while we were waiting to pay for a couple postcards and a pink dragon eraser in the gift shop. Oh well, maybe next time...
The Monster meets someone nearly her own size, a Jawa
How often do you get a chance to meet Boba Fett? We just had to get another photo with him!
Hanging out with a couple different types of Clone Troopers
The Little Monster and Monster Dad with a Snow Trooper and a TIE Fighter Pilot
As we headed across the street to the parking lot The Little Monster informed me that she wasn't shivering this time as she posed for the photos above. Apparently she confessed to her Mom that she was shivering with nerves when we took the first photos after we arrived, but warmed up to the idea enough to not find herself shivering by the end. I guess now I know that even Star Wars characters can cause a nervousness in her similar (if not quite as acute) to when she encounters oversized team mascots and Disney characters. Question answered.
That's pretty much the whole story, but here's a little more info and some potentially useful links for further reading:
Participating in the 3rd annual Higgins Armory Star Wars Day were: the New England Garrison of the 501st Legion, the Alderaan Base of the Rebel Legion, and the Higgins Armory Sword Guild.
The official Higgins Armory website is at: http://www.higgins.org/
And here's the 501st Legion's mission report about Star Wars Day at Higgins Armory
May The Force Be With You!