The World Chess Hall of Fame was created in 1986 by the United States Chess Federation. Originally known as the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame, the small museum opened in 1988 in the basement of the Federation’s then headquarters in New Windsor, New York, and contained a modest collection including a book of chess openings signed by Bobby Fischer, the Paul Morphy Silver Set, and cardboard plaques honoring past grandmasters. In 1992, the U.S. Chess Trust purchased the museum and moved its contents to Washington D.C. From 1992 to 2001, the collection grew to include the World Chess Championship trophy won by the U.S. team in 1993, numerous chess sets and boards, and the U.S. and World Hall of Fame inductee plaques.
In 2001, the institution moved into a new, multi-million dollar facility at the Excalibur Electronics headquarters in Miami, Florida and was renamed the World Chess Hall of Fame and Sidney Samole Museum. The museum continued collecting chess sets, books, tournament memorabilia, advertisements, photographs, furniture, medals, trophies, and journals until it closed in 2009.
It was then proposed that the contents of the Miami institution be moved to Saint Louis due to the success and growing international reputation of the city’s recently opened Chess Club and Scholastic Center, founded in 2007 with the generosity of Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield. Realizing the potential to solidify Saint Louis as an international chess destination and provide area youth with a vital educational resource, the Sinquefields provided funding to relocate the museum to Saint Louis, a city already gaining enormous recognition in the chess community.
On September 9th, 2011, Saint Louis will continue to celebrate the game of chess with the opening of the World Chess Hall of Fame directly across the street from the club. This historic 15,000 square-foot building will feature the U.S. and World Chess Hall of Fame, displays of artifacts from the museum’s permanent collection, and temporary exhibitions highlighting the great players, historic games, and rich cultural history of chess. The Hall of Fame will partner with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center to provide innovative programming, instruction, and outreach to a broad local, national, and international audience of both novices and experts alike.