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Historical Thinking Through Historical Doing: The Impact of Wearing Armor on Visitor Thinking in Arms and Armor Galleries

Research Thesis by Michael Lowry Lamble

Many museums invite the public to touch, handle, and even wear historical objects from their collections, whether originals or replicas, using these experiences to illustrate the past for their visitors. The purpose of this study was to explore how wearing armor affects people’s historical thinking about arms and armor. This was a descriptive survey study, in which twenty adults tried on replica armor before visiting the arms and armor gallery at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD. After exploring the gallery, participants were interviewed about their thoughts in the gallery and how their experience wearing armor influenced those thoughts. Findings indicate that there is no overarching trend in visitor interest in armor, that visitors most commonly report a deeper understanding of armor as a physical object as a result of trying on armor, and that wearing armor influenced participants’ historical thinking by prompting them to take on an historical perspective. These findings will be of most direct application to large art and encyclopedic museums with significant arms and armor collections, and may be of use to any museum offering visitors the chance to handle, wear, or use historical objects.


Lamble, M. L. (2020). Historical thinking through historical doing: The impact of wearing armor on visitor thinking in arms and armor galleries (Order No. 28000805). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (2437421548). Retrieved from


Armor, Embodied learning, Hands-on, Historical thinking, Interactive, Learning