20. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kienbusch Gallery of Arms & Armor, Philadelphia, PA ?? guns, ?? on reinstalled display (??%). Established in 1977

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kienbusch Gallery of Arms & Armor Exterior
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kienbusch Gallery of Arms & Armor Case


Kretzschmar von Kienbusch donated the last great East Coast collection of pre-percussion arms and armor to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A new baronial hall was built for horse & human armors, crossbows, thrusting pikes and edged weapons. Additionally, the collection includes princely match lock, wheel lock and flint lock pistols, rifles, and smooth bore muskets, many from Kienbusch’s native Germany.

Fitting for a major art museum, arms were collected that brought together figurative and decorative artistry with technically demanding metallurgy and lock work. There are rare shooting accoutrements, such as powder flasks carved from deer antlers, petite priming powder flasks made of mother-of-pearl inlaid with silver, and a bandolier of seven wooden powder flasks dangling on cord from a velvet shoulder belt.

A small but epicurean collection of sixteenth to eighteenth century pistols from England, Scotland, Italy, France and Spain include steel and silver stocked Scottish pistols, a pair of French Napoleonic Empire dueling pistols made by Boutet, a Spanish wheel lock pistol embellished with the finest silver filigree, and an Italian flintlock with a solid ivory stock. Hunting rifles are embellished with gold, ivory and silver, some with allegorical hunting scenes and others once belonging to Emperor Ferdinand III and Emperor Charles VI of Austria. After restoration, these arms will be put back on display.

It is fitting that Kienbusch left his collection to Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, home to English and German gunsmiths of the 18th and 19th century, as well as the Frankford Arsenal ammunition plant. Whilst Philadelphia took a secondary role in the industrial production of firearms, it did provide the gunsmiths who built the prototype guns. The city was the host of the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876, and a selection of presentation firearms and ammunition was sent from the exhibition to the Smithsonian Institute, where is still remains.