KNIGHTS! Exhibit at the Worcester Art Museum

Pics all swiped from MassLive
After some incredibly hard work by very talented people KNIGHTS! opened at the Worcester Art Museum over the weekend, incorporating elements from the closed Higgins Armory Museum into WAM's collection.

KNIGHTS features the beginning's of that collection and reflects the genius and vision of many in the art museum including Matthias Waschek, Adam Rozen, Katrina Stacy, Marcia Lagerway, Kim Noonan, Patrick Brown and my wife Veronica Fish.

Matthias from the beginning wanted it to represent an art museum rather than an armory museum, which explains the knight mounted atop a strawberry pink horse in the Lancaster lobby.   Behind it, projected in slow motion with various contemporary musical soundtracks including Star Wars is IVAN THE TERRIBLE-- a film from the 1940s out of the Soviet Union, brilliantly projected to fit inside the arc of twin panels on the walls leading to the exhibit.  One projection running a few seconds behind the other in stark black and white as a contrast to the bright colors of the Salisbury lobby.

The exhibit itself takes advantage of WAM's massive collection of era related art to help present each piece in a new way.

Last year I was attending a meeting at the museum at which Matthias announced the Knights exhibit and explained we would have a modern Hollywood slant with the addition of either a Darth Vader or Batman costume.

As I was clapping at the announcements, one of my supervisors turned to me.  "Wow, that's great." I said.  "Where are we getting the costume?"

He looked at me.  "We were hoping you could get it."

Which began my quest to find either a screen used Darth Vader or Batman costume for the display.  Not an easy task, I assure you.  Since I knew there were more Vader costumes than there were Batman's from the 1989 film (and that's the one they wanted) I opted to track down the Vader suit.

My journey led to conversations with LucasFilms and they were very helpful, but as I researched it occurred to me that not only was 2014 the 25th Anniversary of the Keaton film, it was also the anniversary of the Batman character-- his 75th.   So I switched gears and chased after one of the two known Keaton suits still in existence.

One is in the hands of a private collector, the other had recently been auctioned by Profiles in History who were kind enough to provide me with a lead to the Petersen Museum in California that currently had it on display along with the Batmobile.

Through negotiations, and a phone call from our director to theirs we were able to get the suit.  I have to say it was pretty impressive to see it in person.  I was one of the people standing in line at Lincoln Plaza when it was released on June 23, 1989 and now it was right here.  I was one of the first people to see it, and it really is a part of movie history.

It's also the first time Batman was dressed in black armor.  Something that seems matter of fact today-- some twenty five years later-- but this was the first time his crime fighting suit was more than just leotards.

But my part was minor compared to the lovely and talented Mrs. Fish--

Veronica was brought in to adapt the existing Higgins Mascot HELMUTT to become the mascot for not only the KNIGHTS exhibit but for WAM in general.  One of the best aspects of KNIGHTS is the addition of HELMUTT'S HOUSE in the back half which is designed to be a sort of play place learning zone for kids.

I've been to Higgins in the past, mostly on their popular Star Wars days, but I have to say I think WAM has done a stellar job of incorporating this important collection and elevating it to an all new artistic level.

The exhibit will be on display for some time to come, and remember to visit the first Saturday's of every month before Noon for free admission, which of course includes this Saturday.