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The Cloisters Museum Exhibits

the Famous Lewis Chess Set

Nearly everything about the Isle of Lewis set is disputed except its importance. A committee of curators of the British Museum, which quickly came to own 73 of the pieces, rates the acquisition among its “Top 10 Treasures.” In 2010 the BBC included the Lewis acquisition in its series A History of the World in 100 Objects.

Now, for the very first time, a large ensemble of the Lewis collection has traveled outside the United Kingdom. The Game of Kings: Medieval Ivory Chessmen from the Isle of Lewis, featuring 34 pieces, runs until April 22 at The Cloisters Museum in Manhattan, New York. Curator Barbara Boehm is in charge of the exhibition. “The Lewis pieces are such magnificent works of art,” she said. “They are the largest trove of medieval chess pieces, and they have so enriched what we are able to say about art and life in the middle ages.”

See the links below to read about the recent controversy concerning the origin of this famous relic of chess.

Medieval Archives

G.G. ThorainssonWebsite

March Chess Life Article

Metropolitan Museum

of Art Exhibition Blog