Weapons Throughout Time is an exhibit that explores weapons spanning over 9,000 years of history. The exhibit, shown in the Cooper Gallery, features select artifacts from the museum’s extensive collection of weapons that have been used for defense, survival, and ceremony. From 13th century Samurai swords to World War I automatic weapons--visitors get a close up look at the technology and cultural influences found in weapons used throughout time and across the world.

A vast array of weaponry is presented, highlighting their purposes as instruments for combat, hunting, fishing, sports, and traditional ceremonies. Examples include prehistoric stone arrow points used in the Great Plains, Amazonian blowdarts, Zulu hunting spears, Japanese and Samoan armor, and Middle Eastern, Asian, and Western firearms. Ceremonial weapons include swords, clubs, shields, and spears. Other objects on display include helmets, crossbows, boomerangs, bayonets, knives, and much more.

These are more than tools of survival and warfare; they are cultural works of art. Each object teaches us something about the culture that produced it--their technology, their artistic styles, and their use of weapons for hunting, fighting, and ceremony. By comparing the range of weapons gathered for this exhibit, we can see how diverse cultures start with a common need and make a weapon that is distinct to their culture.

University of Nebraska State Museum University of Nebraska-Lincoln