The Met’s Arms and Armor Galleries: “A Deadly Art: European Crossbow”

The Met reopened last August 27, and crossbow fans may be interested to know that there’s a long list of crossbows on display in the arms and armor galleries. Entitled “A Deadly Art: European Crossbow” this popular exposition presents a diverse collection of more than 80 pieces of authentic period crossbows that date as far back as years 1250 – 1850.


All general admission tickets are for timed or scheduled visits, and will permit entry to all 5th Ave. museum exhibits, including the “A Deadly Art: European Crossbow” mentioned earlier. Although, timed tickets also allow entry to The Met Cloisters on the scheduled day of visit, the Met’s Fort Tryon Park branch is yet to reopen on September 12, 2020.

Moreover, you can pay less than the general admission prices by presenting a valid ID to show that you are a resident of New York, or a student enrolled in any educational institution located in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut.


About The Met’s “A Deadly Art: European Crossbow” Arms and Armor Exhibit

The Met’s arms and armor galleries are among the most visited spaces, as there are about fourteen thousand pieces of diverse weapons coming from different parts of the world, spanning more than two millennia of history. The crossbow space holds a special place because in the history of weapons, crossbows were used in warfares for more than two thousand years before firepower technology arrived. “A Deadly Art: European Crossbow’ presents the unrivaled quality and depth of crossbow mechanisms, which were innovated out of the desire to improve the propulsive power of single bows.

It is widely believed that the first crossbow innovation came around in China before the 6th century B.C. during the country’s period of Warring States, which started in the 4th century B.C. In Europe, a weapon similar to the Chinese crossbow but different because it was cocked, was said to have been used by Greeks in the 5th century Siege of Motya in 397.

During Medieval times, crossbows were called arablest in Europe and had gained popularity because they required less time in training soldiers to become proficient users. European crossbowmen were held in esteem as they were also trained to shoot crossbows while charging toward the enemy on horseback. According to historical records, the crossbow cavalry troops held a central position in battles to protect the infantry, which is why they received higher salaries than foot soldiers.

At the Met’s “A Deadly Art : European Crossbow” exhibit, there’s an arbalest circa 1425–75, which The Met surmises as one that came from Austria. Simply captioned as “Crossbow” the object resembled the crossbows made in Austria up to the present, which has the distinction of having an inlaid panel adorned with flamelike extensions.

Crossbow enthusiasts can view a wide array of actual examples including the pellet crossbow, a game hunting equipment for smaller animals like birds and squirrels that originated in China. .