ITALY’ S HIDDEN SAMURAI COLLECTION

One of the most extraordinary and lesser known collections of Japanese armour in the world, is located in a fabulous villa in the hills of Florence. Originally owned by Frederick Stibbert, son of an extremely wealthy English officer and a Florentine noblewoman, who dedicated his life to collecting arms and armour from all over the world.

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Stibbert Museum Italy
Frederick Stibbert, who was one of Italy's wealthiest and most popular bachelors of the late XIX century, pictured in 1865, with a friend while they reenact the knighting of Joan of Arc. Both are dressed in armors from his collection.
Frederick Stibbert, who was one of Italy’s wealthiest and most popular bachelors of the late XIX century, pictured in 1865, with a friend while they reenact the knighting of Joan of Arc. Both are dressed in armours from his collection.

Frederick was born in Florence (1838-1906) but was sent to England as a young boy to study. His father Thomas, was a colonel of the Coldstream Guards and his grandfather Giles, had been Governor of Bengal, India. Giles accumulated an incredible fortune which passed on to Frederick when he was 21 years old.
He started to collect immediately upon his coming of age and ended up transforming his house into a museum “which has cost me a great deal of money and much care and effort”, as he wrote on his will. His first piece was bought around 1870. When Frederick died he left the museum to the municipality of Florence, to improve the knowledge of history for the benefit of future generations.

Today the museum is a Foundation according to Stibbert’s last will.

Four intimidating samurai Iki-Ningyo mannequins guard the main entrance to the Japanese collection, two of which are mounted on fully armoured horses.
Four intimidating samurai Iki-Ningyo mannequins guard the main entrance to the Japanese collection, two of which are mounted on fully armoured horses.

The Japanese Armoury

The three rooms which today house the Japanese collection, were built for European medieval items but in the late 1870’s, Frederick started taking an interest in Far Eastern arms and armours. When Japan opened its ports to foreigners, many items started their journey to the West. Frederick Stibbert was a frequent visitor to the Universal Expositions in which Japan exhibited its best productions. The Stibbert Japanese collection was one of the earliest to be formed.

The collection includes 95 suits of armours, 200 helmets, 285 swords and spears, 880 sword guards and many metal fittings. Almost all items date from the Momoyama and Edo periods (1570-1868) with few examples of earlier productions.

Hall 2 contains large wall to wall display cases of full gusoku armours, helmets and masks. The museum has some outstanding pieces that have featured in many international exhibitions hosted by leading museums.
Hall 2 contains large wall to wall display cases of full gusoku armours, helmets and masks. The museum has some outstanding pieces that have featured in many international exhibitions hosted by leading museums.
Hall 3 has cases stacked full of helmets, armour, swords and sword fittings. The collection is truly breath taking and beckons return visits as there is far too much to take in on one visit alone.

Opening Hours:

Mon-Tue-Wed 10AM-2PM (Ticket Office closes at 1PM)
Fri-Sat-Sun 10AM-6PM (Ticket Office closes at 5PM)
Closed on Thursday.

The Museum is closed: January 1st, Easter Sunday, May 1st, August 15th, December 25th.
Full Ticket: 8,00 EUR
Children 4-12 years old: 6,00 EUR
Children 0-3 years old: FREE

Museo Stibbert
via Federigo Stibbert 26
50134 Firenze

Direction Office
via di Montughi 4
50139 Firenze
[bus n. 4 from train station Firenze SMN, bus stop Gioia (A on the map)]