Royal BC Museum brings famed Lewis Chessmen to life — literally

by Lexa Pennington /
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Jul 15, 2009 / 0 comments

Royal BC Museum brings famed Lewis Chessmen to life — literally

VICTORIA, BC – The Royal BC Museum (RBCM) puts a new spin on an age-old game next week by hosting an outdoor living chess game – the kick-off event for the Summer Chess Fest in Victoria.

A pair of Grandmaster chess players will spar in the life-sized chess match that celebrates the most famous chess pieces in the world, the Lewis Chessmen. Five of the 850-year-old chess pieces are featured in the current RBCM exhibition, Treasures: The World’s Cultures from the British Museum. The Lewis Chessmen were also featured in the 2001 film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

“With people acting as pieces, this is chess as you’ve never seen it before,” says RBCM CEO Pauline Rafferty.  “It’s a showdown between two Grandmasters, a Canadian and an American, on a giant chess board. I’ve played chess before, but nothing even close to this.”

Volunteers from the Canadian Youth Chess Championship will be the chess pieces for the half-hour game – each sporting a vest screened with an image of a different Lewis Chessman. Their moves on the five-metre (16-foot) square chess board will be directed by the Grandmasters sitting on the sidelines.

This free event takes place Monday, July 20, 1:30 - 2 p.m., outside the entrance to the Royal BC Museum.

Another Treasures event this month is Thursday Night at the Museum Café. Join expert panelists and members of the community on July 16 for the discussion Do Museums Matter? The event runs 7 - 9 p.m. in the Museum Café at the RBCM. Tickets are available in person or online at Cost is $8 in advance or $10 if purchased on the day of the event. Admission for seniors, students and annual pass holders is $6 in advance or $8 day of.

Treasures: The World’s Cultures from the British Museum
is proudly supported by a number of organizations, including: London Drugs (Lead Sponsor); Tourism Victoria (Lead Marketing Partner); and Canwest (Media Sponsor), which includes Global BC, CHEK News, Times Colonist and Vancouver Sun.

As the provincial museum and archives, the Royal BC Museum preserves and shares the stories of British Columbia – on-site, off-site and online – through its research, collections, exhibitions and educational programs. Its two-hectare cultural precinct also includes a number of historically significant buildings and First Nations sites.  

For more information on the latest activities, events and exhibitions at the Royal BC Museum, visit or call 1-888-447-7977.