The core of the museum’s holdings of arms and armor was acquired in 1977 through Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch’s gift of his private collection, long regarded as the finest in existence. Assembled from about 1914 to his death, the Kienbusch Collection features approximately 1,200 objects, primarily of European origin and dating from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century, for use in battles, ceremonies, tournaments, or hunting. It features complete armors, equestrian equipment, helmets and other armor elements, and weapons.
Most objects in the Kienbusch Collection can be traced to the ancestral armories of European rulers and noblemen, or the arsenals of provinces and municipalities; and to the private collections of prominent nineteenth- and twentieth-century American and European collectors. At the heart of Kienbusch’s collecting endeavors was his intent to assemble a representative selection of some of the best expressions of armor as an art form.