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Exhibition at World Chess Hall of Fame Showcases World-Class Chess Collection
Butterflies and Insects Chess Set and Board, c. 1790. Italy. Ivory and ebony. Collection of Dr. George and Vivian Dean.

ST. LOUIS, MO.- Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Natural Splendors from the Chess Collection of Dr. George & Vivian Dean features over 30 magnificent, antique chess sets inspired by the natural world or created from organic materials and acquired over 5 decades of collecting by the Deans. The rare sets are exhibited alongside natural specimens and tools. The oldest set in the exhibit is a rock crystal chess set and board from Germany, dating to 1525. Other lenders to the show include the Dennos Museum Center (Traverse City, MI), the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago, IL), the Missouri History Museum (Saint Louis, MO), the Saint Louis Science Center (Saint Louis, MO), Washington University (Saint Louis, MO), and the Wheaton Museum of American Glass (Millville, NJ).

This exhibition commemorates the 55th year that Dr. George and Vivian Dean have collected chess sets together. They purchased their first chess set in the Middle East and thereafter acquired a set in each country they visited. As they immersed themselves in chess history and joined a worldwide community of chess set connoisseurs, they expanded their collection more systematically. Now they travel to new countries for the sole purpose of acquiring new sets to make the collection more comprehensive. Their collection includes over 1,000 chess sets and related objects from over 100 countries. Dr. Dean is a physician as was Carl Linnaeus, the noted Swedish scientist who, in his 1735 book Systema Naturae, proposed the first comprehensive system of organizing the entire natural world into animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms. Therefore, works for this exhibition have been selected on the basis of being exceptional examples of animal, vegetable, or mineral subjects or materials.

The show is part of an exhibition program celebrating the fifth anniversary of the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis. Dr. Dean will give a lecture about his experiences as a collector and the backgrounds of the sets on Saturday, November 12, at 1:30 pm. The exhibit will run through March 12, 2017.

Curated by Larry List, Independent Curator. Organized by Emily Allred, Assistant Curator, and Maggie Abbott, Registrar.

To learn more about the exhibits and other current exhibits on view at the World Chess Hall of Fame, click here.

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