St. Louis, MO
This new exhibition of works from the Dean collection marks the WCHOF’s fifth anniversary as well as Dr. George and Vivian Dean’s 55th year of collecting fine chess sets. Lovers of history and art, the Deans have traveled to over 100 countries to find over 1,000 of the finest chess sets from the 8th century CE to the present, and have assembled them into one of the world’s most distinguished private collections.
However, the Deans are also passionate about science. Dr. Dean is a physician as was Carl Linnaeus, who in his 1735 book Systema Naturae proposed the first comprehensive system of classifying the entire natural world into animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms. The selection of these chess sets is based on the categories of Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae. Their presentation is inspired by another influential Age of Enlightenment text, Denis Diderot’s Encyclopaedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts, (1751-1772). By exhibiting chess sets (Arts) in the context of the natural materials (Sciences) from which they were made along with examples of the types of tools and processes used to make them (Crafts) it becomes evident that chess sets and chess culture are not apart from life, but a part of life and the natural world that surrounds us.