A Song of Reason. Chess: The World in 64 Squares

Among all games, chess assumes a special position. It has accompanied men for more than a thousand years and its language is understood worldwide. The origins of chess are uncertain. As a game of rationality, it has held artists and mathematicians, philosophers and writers spellbound. Chess has been played at royal courts and in courtyards, by wise men of Persia and Christian kings, by clowns and emigrants, whose home was portable: a playing board with 8x8 squares, 32 pieces and an ensemble of old rules.

Chess reached Europe via Persia and Arabia and wherever it made its appearance, an enormous cultural echo rose. Chess is a symbol of tolerance, of understanding, and of a world determined by rationality. The history of chess is inseparably connected with the history of Judaism. The singer Masur al-Yehudi received the game of chess from a Persian. Great Jewish players, scholars, and patrons have made the game to what it is today. The exhibition "A Song of Reason" depicts the journey of the game of chess around the world and throughout time. The exhibition will focus on the most beautiful chess pieces from the Middle Ages to the present. The chess pieces also tell the story of a day and a life: a chess game and the life of the great Polish chess master, Akiba Rubinstein (1882-1961). Whereas the chess pieces on the first floor of the Museum are kept immobile, those on the ground level are set in motion. A simultaneous match and grand masters' tournament will be part of the exhibition. Sculptures appear for moments on the chess board and then destroy themselves move by move.

Curators: Ernst Strouhal, Eva Blimlinger