As part of a special Sunday at the Met program held in conjunction with the exhibition Bashford Dean and the Creation of the Arms and Armor Department, Donald J. La Rocca explains the founding and history of the department.
A zoologist by training, Bashfod Dean was for a time simultaneously a full professor at Columbia University, Curator of Fishes at the American Museum of Natural History, and Curator of Arms and Armor at the Metropolitan Museum. At the Met, he worked initially as a guest curator in 1904, when he was invited to install and catalog the Museum’s first significant acquisitions of arms and armor. He continued on as honorary curator until joining the staff full time in 1912 as head of the newly created Arms and Armor Department, rapidly building the collection into one of international importance.