For all the famous names one encounters strolling through the majestic Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, it’s the name Bloomberg that’s most startling–given where it is. Perhaps the loudest and surest of all American gun control advocates, the billionaire mayor has discordantly emblazoned his name–well, his daughters’ names–on a collection of 14,000 armaments. The Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Arms and Armor Court at the Met features brutal and exquisite weapons of war from centuries past–swords, lances, rapiers, and daggers, for a start. The Met’s Arms and Armor collection even includes a Colt .44 caliber revolver. That’s a handgun, if you didn’t know.
Weaponry, of course, has long been more than simply dangerous. Often it was beautiful too, as a glance at any bejeweled saber or elaborate breast plate in this collection will show. (Contemporary gun enthusiasts also boast of their assault weapons having aesthetic beauty.) Such bright lights as Albrecht Durer, Leonardo da Vinci and Hans Holbein are among the famous artists who throughout history sidelined as designers of armor and weapons. The Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Arms and Armor Court also offers the most extensive selection in the US of 16th and 17th-century European armor, created for kings and noblemen to use on the battlefield for protection. This part of the collection makes much better sense for Mayor Mike: most of the remarkable warrior helmets on display look as though no 36-ounce cola could possibly penetrate them.