Pawns & Passports: Chess Sets from Around the Globe

Pawns & Passports: Chess Sets from Around the Globe

June 3, 2021-January 30, 2022
Curated by Emily Allred with Shannon Bailey


Featuring over 1200 sets from over 30 countries, the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) has amassed one of the largest and most diverse chess set collections in the world. From beautiful decorative antique chess sets made from luxury materials to mass-produced sets celebrating the popular culture of different regions, the collection demonstrates how chess has captured the imagination of people around the world. Pawns & Passports: Chess Sets from Around the Globe will include a selection of these sets, allowing people to take a trip around the world from Saint Louis, the designated chess capital of the United States.

Connection to WCHOF Mission:

The WCHOF is dedicated to interpreting the game of chess and its continuing cultural and artistic significance. Chess, with its opposing sides and rich history, has proven an attractive arena for artists and creators to explore different imagery and stories. As chess has spread around the world, it has attracted the attention of artists and creators who have made sets that incorporate themes and stories from their own cultures.


  • A chess set created by the storied Meissen porcelain factory in the twentieth century set that takes inspiration from nature in a whimsical frog theme.
  • A Danish chess set dating from the late 18th to mid 19th century, one of the oldest in the WCHOF collection.
  • A Russian chess set created from ancient mammoth ivory.
  • An elegant Chinese puzzle ball set, featuring carefully carved concentric spheres.

There will be an opening reception on Thursday, June 3, 2021 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. More details and photos coming soon!