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Gladioli Claude Monet
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Gladioli (21.71) — Claude Monet

Samurai: Beyond the Sword

Sunday, March 09, 2014 – Sunday, June 01, 2014

Discover the artist behind the armor. Samurai: Beyond the Sword is a rare opportunity to experience the world of the Japanese Samurai. Moving beyond the stereotype of the warrior, the exhibition explores the role of the military arts and the importance of Samurai engagement in the cultural, spiritual and art worlds of their time.


(Tickets are free for DIA members. Reserve your complimentary timed tickets)


Samurai: Beyond the Sword is based on the traveling exhibition Lethal Beauty: Samurai Weapons and Armor, from the collection of the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture. Birgitta Augustin, DIA associate curator and acting department head of Arts of Asia & the Islamic World, along with consultant Masako Watanabe, curated Samurai: Beyond the Sword.

The exhibition offers an in-depth look at the samurai—shoguns (supreme military rulers), daimyo (regional lords) and soldiers—who sought balance between military and cultural pursuits. The exhibition explores artworks that project the image of the samurai not only as fierce warriors but also as patrons of the arts and sophisticated artists and scholars during the relatively peaceful Edo period (1603–1868).

Menacing suits of armor and meticulously crafted sword blades are evidence of the samurai's military might, while exquisitely painted scenes of nature and finely crafted tea ceremony objects reveal their aesthetic ideals. Many objects used for battle are embellished with artistic, literary and spiritual symbols, illustrating the integration of samurai values.

Among the artworks are helmets, face masks, and paintings of legendary Buddhist and Chinese figures, as well as scenes of epic battles, shimmering Noh theatre costumes and illustrated classical literature on screen and scroll paintings. These and other objects reveal the principles of awareness and mindfulness that samurai pursued throughout their lives.

An array of programs are being offered to enhance the themes in the exhibition, including artist demonstrations of a Japanese tea ceremony, floral arranging, martial arts, kiting, bunraku-inspired puppets, performances on traditional Japanese instruments and films. Click here to see a schedule of programs.

A $3.50 charge applies to nonmember tickets not purchased at the DIA. Tickets are timed, and advance purchase is recommended. Final entry is one hour prior to closing.

Purchase Tickets

Tickets can also be purchased at the DIA or by calling 313.833.4005.


Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Friday: 9 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Monday: Closed

Membership Helpline

Call 313.833.7971 to join, renew or upgrade. DIA members receive free exhibition tickets, discounts and more.

Group Visits

Reservations required for 15+; call 313.833.1292.

Dining and Rentals

Call 313.833.7966.

Visitor Services

Call 313.833.7940. The DIA is wheelchair accessible at the Farnsworth entrance.


Lighted, secure lot behind the museum between Brush St. and John R.

The special exhibition shop carries items ranging from books and DVDs about samurai culture to stunning prints of artworks in the exhibition, replicas of samurai helmets, kites, interactive toys, home décor, including ikebana vases, lacquer boxes and tea sets, jewelry and more. You are sure to find something for everyone in the family.

Located on the second level at the exit of Samurai: Beyond the Sword, the shop is open during regular museum hours. Or, shop online, anytime at diashop.org.


This exhibition is organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts, based on the original exhibition Lethal Beauty, curated by Dr. Andreas Marks for the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture, with tour organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.

In Detroit, the exhibition is generously supported by Toyota, DENSO International America, Inc., E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and Yazaki North America, Inc.


Add to Calendar 3/9/2014 6/1/2014 America/New_York Samurai: Beyond the Sword Detroit Institute of Arts DIA tickets@dia.org false MM/DD/YYYY