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British museum


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British museum

  1. 1. British Museum- The Museum houses a vast collection of world art and artefacts and is free to all visitors. The British museum is the most famous museum in London with millions of people coming every year. The British Museum was established in 1753, largely based on the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. The museum first opened to the public on 15 January 1759 in Montagu House in Bloomsbury, on the site of the current museum building. Its expansion over the following two and a half centuries was largely a result of an expanding British colonial footprint and has resulted in the creation of several branch institutions, the first being the British Museum (Natural History) in South Kensington in 1887. Some objects in the collection, most notably the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, are the objects of controversy and of calls for restitution to their countries of origin. Until 1997, when the British Library (previously centered on the Round Reading Room) moved to a new site, the British Museum housed both a national museum of antiquities and a national library in the same building. The museum is a non-
  2. 2. departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and as with all other national museums in the United Kingdom it charges no admission fee, except for loan exhibitions Since 2002 the director of the museum has been Neil Macgregor. The Lewis Chessmen- The Lewis Chessmen named after the bay where they were found) are a group of 78 12th-century chess pieces, most of which are carved in walrus ivory. Discovered in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, they may constitute some of the few complete, surviving medieval chess sets, although it is not clear if a set as originally made can be assembled from the pieces. They are owned and exhibited by the British Museum in London, which has 67 of the original pieces, and the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, which has the remaining 11 pieces.
  3. 3. The chessmen were probably made in Norway, perhaps by craftsmen in Trondheim, in the 12th century, although some scholars have suggested other sources in the Nordic countries. During that period, the Outer Hebrides, along with other major groups of Scottish islands, were ruled by Norway. According to Dr. Alex Woolf, director of the Institute for Medieval Studies of the University of St. Andrews, there are a number of reasons for believing the chess pieces probably came from Trondheim: a broken queen piece in a similar style found in an excavation of the archbishop's palace (it appeared the piece was broken as it was being made), the presence of wealthy people in Trondheim able to pay craftsmen for the high-quality pieces, similar carving in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, the excavation in Trondheim of a kite-shaped shield similar to shields on some of the pieces and a king piece of similar design found on Hitra Island, near the mouth of Trondheim Fjord. Woolf has said that the armour worn by the chess figures includes "perfect" reproductions of armour worn at the time in Norway. Some historians believe that the Lewis chessmen were hidden (or lost) after some mishap occurred during their carriage from Norway to wealthy Norse towns on the east coast of Ireland, such as Dublin. The large number of pieces and their lack of wear may suggest that they were the stock of a trader or dealer in such pieces. Along with the chess pieces, there were 14 plain round tablemen for the game of tables and one belt buckle, all made of ivory, making a total of 93 artifacts.
  4. 4. Another suggestion, put forward by Icelanders Gudmundur G. Thorarinsson and Einar S. Einarsson, is that the chessmen originated in Iceland.The pair claim that the most important indicator of Icelandic origins is the presence of bishops among the Lewis Chessmen, such pieces first being used in Iceland. However, this is disputed by Woolf, who stated that the use of bishops originated in England. The Icelandic hypothesis has been thoroughly criticized by chess historian and member of the Ken Whyld Association Morten Lilleøren, who has written two articles on the subject, "The Lewis Chessmen Were Never Anywhere Near Iceland!" and "The Lewis Chessmen on a Fantasy Iceland".