Springfield Museums, Meet Your Samurai Ancestors
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Meet Your Samurai Ancestors!
This fall, the Springfield Museums host a unique and imaginative exhibit that will bring together original graphic novel art from the popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series with colorful Japanese woodblock prints depicting samurai warriors and examples of 19th century armor and swords used by actual samurai.
Turtle Power! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Samurai Heroes draws from the collection of local TMNT enthusiast Elias Derby, and from the Museums’ own world-famous collection of Japanese artwork, arms, and armor to provide visitors with a rare glimpse of the real-life inspiration for the popular cartoon and graphic novel series. The exhibit will be on view at the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum from November 8, 2016 – May 14, 2017.
Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were both living in nearby Northampton, Massachusetts, when they formed Mirage Studios and issued their first TMNT comic book in 1984. Since then, the characters of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo have become cult heroes among aficionados of comics and graphic novels. Known for their swashbuckling style, their “Cowabunga” rallying cry, and their love of pizza, the characters have been featured in numerous comic books, graphic novels, and movies over the past three decades. Their commitment to protecting the innocent as well as their adherence to the bushido code of honor, discipline, and morality harkens back to the age of the samurai (1185-1867). The exhibit includes 80 original illustrations including examples by Eastman, Laird, and over 20 renowned graphic novel and comic book artists.
These modern representations of the warriors take on new meaning when juxtaposed with the imagery and trappings of their samurai ancestors. Numerous scholars have lauded the Springfield Museums for the quality and depth of their Japanese collections, particularly in the areas of samurai arms, armor, and ukiyo-e prints, and have ranked their holdings of Meiji-era art as among the finest of any public institution in the world. The exhibit’s inclusion of prints featuring legendary samurai heroes by the famed ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), underscore the importance of the collection.
George Walter Vincent Smith, whose collection is housed in the museum that bears his name, was fascinated by Japanese arms and armor, especially swords. Many of the weapons date back to the 14 and 15th centuries, and feature intricate embellishments of dragons, flames, and other decorative motifs on the blades, handles, and scabbards. The exhibit will display a selection of swords and will also include three complete suits of samurai armor as well as examples of traditional samurai helmets.
An interactive, Saturday morning TMNT cartoon area and activities based on samurai warriors will be offered for children and families within the exhibition gallery. A members-only reception featuring free pizza will take place on Friday, November 11 from 5 – 7 p.m. Guests are invited to dress in their best ninja outfit (no weapons, please). In fact, any visitor aged 12 or under who comes to see Turtle Power! in costume will receive a special “goody-bag.”
Media sponsors for Turtle Power! are the Valley Advocate and Preview Magazine; media partners include Take Magazine and Artscope Magazine. MassMutual is the 2016 Season Supporter of the Springfield Museums.
The Springfield Museums
220 State Street, Springfield, MA
Set around a tree-lined quadrangle in downtown Springfield, the four world-class museums that comprise the Springfield Museums provide visitors with a wealth of exciting imagery and inspirational artwork. The D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Springfield Science Museum, and the Wood Museum of Springfield History. The Quadrangle is also home to the Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden, a series of full-scale bronze sculptures of Dr. Seuss's whimsical creations, honoring the birthplace of Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss. For one admission price, visitors can enjoy all four Springfield Museums and the Dr. Seuss Park. Secure free onsite parking is available around the corner at 21 Edwards Street. Open Tuesday through Sunday.