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Exhibition at the World Chess Hall of Fame showcases collection, celebrates five years in Saint Louis
Chess Set, Board and Box from the 2002 New York, New York, Kasparov and Karpov Exhibition Match. Photo © Michael DeFilippo.
ST. LOUIS, MO.- Open Files: Celebrating 5 Years of Collecting is an exhibition of 100 select objects, showcasing the depth and breadth of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF)’s collection. The exhibition was developed through donations and acquisitions made since the museum opened in Saint Louis in 2011. Donors include International Master John Donaldson, Joram Piatigorsky, 2006 U.S. Chess Hall of Fame inductee Yasser Seirawan, and staff at the WCHOF and the CCSCSL, among others.

Highlights include chess sets inspired by popular culture, trophies and tournament scoresheets from the Piatigorsky and Sinquefield Cups, photographs, chess pins, print advertisements, caricatures, and other artifacts related to chess history and culture.

One artifact is a photograph picturing Italian actress Liliana Chiari as a living chessboard, first published as U.S. and World Chess Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Fischer fought for the title of World Chess Champion in 1972. The rise of chess and its influence on popular culture not only in the United States, but around the world, is a familiar theme for many artifacts in the exhibit.

The rich and recognizable symbolism of chess has been frequently adapted by the media industry throughout history. One example in the exhibition is a poster originally created to promote a London concert during the Dave Matthews Band's summer 2010 concert tour. The poster illustrates a Queen covered in images that evoke the culture and landscape of the city: Big Ben, the “Union Jack” flag, teapots, and a soccer ball. In the summer of 2010, five of the band’s posters had chess themes, each featuring a chess piece with attributes reflecting the culture of the city or state that hosted the show.

References to pop culture can also be seen in the television, movie, and video game-inspired chess sets in the WCHOF’s collection. Characters from the 1990’s and early 2000’s, including Scooby-Doo!, Hello Kitty, Sesame Street, Looney Tunes, Sonic the Hedgehog, Peanuts, The Simpsons, and South Park all make appearances in this exhibition.

Other artifacts in the exhibition celebrate important moments in chess history, such as the chess set from the 2002 two-day exhibition match in New York’s ABC Studios between World Chess Champions Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. The match was the first in which Karpov triumphed over Kasparov.

A more recent artifact celebrating a chess victory is the photograph of Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana, 2016 U.S. Champion and currently rated #2 in the U.S. and #3 in the world, holding the Sinquefield Cup trophy, by the world-renowned photographer Harry Benson.

Open Files: Celebrating 5 Years of Collecting commemorates the fifth year anniversary of the World Chess Hall of Fame and is a tribute to the diverse range of noteworthy items the organization has acquired and received through donation over the past five years. The exhibition runs through April 15, 2017.

Curated by Emily Allred, Assistant Curator. Organized by Catherine Niehaus.

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






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