Checkmate! Chess Sets from the Maryhill Museum of Art
January 7 – April 26, 2020
Study Gallery and Print Study Center
Over the past 1000 years, the game of chess has spread across the world, crossing cultural and political boundaries. This exhibition looks at the wide range of chess sets made during the past 250 years by diverse cultures from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. While operating within a predetermined structure of the 32 game pieces, artists bring their own creativity and interpretation to each set, resulting in a wide variety of themes and materials. Created with wood, glass, bone, and ivory, the sets include traditional designs, as well as abstract, non-figurative sets and narrative sets depicting mythological characters or historical figures.
The exhibition was curated from the beloved collection of over 400 chess sets at the Maryhill Museum of Art in Goldendale, Washington. Chess has a long history at Maryhill, going back to an early director, Clifford Dolph, who first curated a chess exhibition in 1957; the exhibition proved so popular with visitors that it was extended twice and the museum began collecting chess-related materials. Today Maryhill’s George E. Muehleck Jr. Gallery of International Chess Sets houses a permanent exhibition featuring sets and pieces from all corners of the world.