SWORDSMANSHIP MUSEUM AND ACADEMY OPENS IN COMSTOCK PARK
Jerry Berg realized a vision he had as far back as 2007 when he opened the Swordsmanship Museum and Academy. The first class was Polish saber tradition on December 1. There are also classes in German longsword and Civil War saber at the museum, 3926 West River Drive. Exhibits open in early 2022. Berg, the director, educator, and curator, lives in Comstock Park and is enthusiastic about the location he found.
“This location is right in the heart of downtown Comstock Park” said Berg. “I can tell that the area is growing, and I would love to have our museum be a part of that growth.”
Berg is an educator at heart and wants people to learn not only about the swords and how to use them, but also the history surrounding the time when they were used. That’s where the exhibits come in. He has a team of instructors, educators, and other experts he has met over the years that he reached out to when putting his museum plan together. He plans to have living history programs where educators dress in historical dress. At first classes will be offered to ages as young as 16 if parents also sign up for the class, and upward. He plans to open youth classes for younger kids and teens in 2022. He says his six-year-old daughter loves to come and watch.
Berg has been teaching at various locations and happy to have a permanent location, noting, “I know that the community is going to love the interior of the building, which has enough space for both classes and professional museum galleries.”
Future plans include special classes such as “Swords in our Hearts” for couples for Valentine’s Day, and a “Swords in Springtime” celebration in 2022 at Dwight Lydell Park. Because of the uniqueness of the museum, Berg expects to attract aficionados from all over the country.
Because of his interest in swords and their history, Berg has acquired quite a collection including international swords from places like Indonesia, the Philippines, Africa, and Japan. Part of the Japanese collection includes an original Edo period (1603-1867) Kusarigama, a weapon consisting of a sickle blade with a weighted chain attached. Swords from the history of Britain, France, Mexico, the United States, and other countries are part of the Museum collection.
Besides swords, Berg has artifacts like 19th century swordsmanship manuals, books dating back to the 1840’s, and an 1863 newspaper picture from the Roanoke Island battle in the Civil war. His oldest artifact is a 1700-year-old arrowhead that dates back to ancient Rome. He has an over one-thousand-year-old Viking age seax, a kind of knife, and many artifacts ranging between the Golden Age of Piracy in the 1700’s through World War II.
Berg became interested in history and weapons as a kid playing video games like Age of Empires and enjoyed changing the historical time of the games. He joined some online groups, started participating in Civil War reenactments, and formed his own group while a student at Grand Valley State University. He is also active in the Grand Valley Renaissance Festival.
Berg also runs two other museums that are currently “homeless” and are traveling exhibits – the Fishing Museum and Cultural Center, and the Lumberjack and Logging Museum both of which he anticipates will see similar growth in upcoming years.
To sign up for classes, visit HERE. which lists upcoming events, stay updated by signing up for the digital newsletter, or visit the Museum on Facebook. Open hours are not set yet, but once the exhibit galleries are complete the Museum will be open to the public early afternoon into early evening on weekdays and weekends.