The Stibbert Museum is closer to an overflowing treasure chest of unique wonders than a stuffy historical repository.
At the young age of 21, Frederick Stibbert inherited an incredible fortune from his grandfather Giles, who had made his money as Commander-in-Chief of the British East India Company and as Governor of Bengal. Instead of joining the workforce, Stibbert immediately used his fortune to begin collecting ancient weaponry, armors, costumes and furniture from all over the world. His personal museum was held in his family’s villa until his collection outstripped the available room, at which point Stibbert employed architects, sculptors, and artisans to expand the grounds. When Stibbert died, he passed the impressive collection on to the city of Florence and visitors were finally free to browse the collection.
Entering this villa-museum is a breathtaking experience for the lay person and pure ecstasy for lovers of medieval warfare. The museum contains dozens of perfectly preserved sets of plate armor framed by a series of beautiful Botticelli, Crivelli, and Pieter Brueghel paintings, which themselves were chosen not for the subjects themselves but for the clothes they were wearing. The armory continues through many of the chambers of the house showing a diverse array of European, Moresque, and Samurai weapons and armors. Most notable is the Cavalcade room, where you can see a parade of full plate-armored knights and steeds in all their might. In addition to the ever-present armors, there are a collection of tapestries, luxurious furniture, French and Turkish carpets, Murano glass artifacts, and costumes filling every corner of the giant villa.
Thanks to Stibbert’s love of antiques, beauty, and history, the Stibbert Museum is now a lasting testament to the beauty and artifice of the past.