April 30, 2012 – Samurai – The Prestigious Collection of Richard Béliveau, held at Pointe‑à‑Callière, Montréal’s Museum of Archaeology and History, launches the Montréal Art Collectors series to commemorate the Museum’s 20th anniversary. Some 200 pieces from Professor Richard Béliveau’s private collection will be on display. How did Mr. Béliveau, who is best known in Québec for his research on the prevention and treatment of cancer, amass such an exotic collection? His passion for Japanese culture began as a young boy, when he took up judo, and it has grown exponentially ever since. Now in retirement, he hopes to share this fascination through his numerous prized sets of armour and artwork. The show features more samurai than one would want to shake a stick at!
Renowned for their legendary fierceness, the samurai were not just warriors in shining armour, but sophisticated men who engaged in such civilized pursuits as tea ceremonies, poetry writing and gardening, influencing Japanese culture as we know it today. They also brought this level of artistry to their military attire, with intricate and brightly coloured lacquered metal, leather, silk and the occasional moustache made of yak hair rendering the samurai’s wardrobe a daunting haute couture for the battlefield. From May 17, 2012, through March 31, 2013, visitors can admire these brilliant martial accoutrements in Montréal for the very first time. The exhibit presents one of the world’s most extensive collections of samurai war costumes, weaponry and historical objects such as tea sets, calligraphy scrolls and decorative masks dating mainly from the Azuchi Momoyama period (1573–1603) and the Edo or Tokugawa period (1600–1868).
Art lovers, history buffs and anime fans of all ages will be able to appreciate this colourful collection of menacing yet vaguely comical life-size warriors. Missing this exhibit would do a great dishonour to their noble reputation, and one wouldn’t want any of them to come to life to shout “Hara-kiri!”