December 31, 2013

Higgins Museum passes into history

PHOTO/RICK SAIA
PHOTO/RICK SAIA
With a bullhorn in her hand, Suzanne Maas, interim executive director at the Higgins Armory Museum, gives last-day patrons instructions before their picture is taken minutes after the museum Tuesday for the last time.

Today marked the passing of an era in Worcester, as the Higgins Armory Museum closed its doors for the final time after 82 years of operation.

From its distinctive glass-and-steel building to being one of the only museums outside Europe dedicated to knightly armor, the Higgins has always charted its own path, according to Clarinda Higgins, granddaughter of museum founder John Woodman Higgins.

Several members of the Higgins family were on hand to mark the occasion, and posed for photographs with the last patrons after the museum closed at 3:45 p.m.

"The time is now 3:45 p.m.," museum conservator Bill MacMillan intoned over the Higgins intercom to about 100 patrons inside the foyer and outside the front door. "And the Higgins Armory Museum is now closed after 83 years.

"Thank you for making us welcome in Worcester, and we hope to see you soon."

The entire core collection – some 2,000 pieces of mostly Medieval-era arms and armor – will be transferred to the Worcester Art Museum and put on display by the end of March, according to Higgins.

"There's a sadness, but on the other hand, I want the Worcester Art Museum to do a fabulous job exhibiting the collection," Clarinda Higgins said.

An advisory committee is seeking a buyer for the 42,000-square-foot Barber Avenue structure as well as the adjacent 4.75-acre parking lot. Higgins hopes to have a buyer by the end of April.

Even though the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it's not protected from demolition, Higgins said. She hopes the new owner will maintain the building.

Read more

Higgins pieces to premiere at WAM in March

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