June 14, 2012

British Museum to permanently return some of Lewis Chessmen to Stornoway in 2014

Posted at 12:58 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

After briefly returning to Scotland in 2010, some of the Lewis Chessmen are going to return on a semi permanent basis to the island where they were discovered. It is unclear how much SNP leader Alex Salmond’s demands for their return have led to this decision & moreover, whether the British Museum is getting anything in return for the deal. I am very interested to find out more details of the exact loan agreement that has been made.

BBC News

13 June 2012 Last updated at 15:20
Historic Lewis Chessmen returning to Western Isles

Six Lewis Chessmen are to be displayed long-term at a new museum on the Western Isles, where more than 90 of the historic pieces were found.

An agreement has been reached between Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) and the British Museum.

The British Museum will loan the six pieces to the new museum at Lews Castle, in Stornoway, from 2014.

Figures from the Lewis Chessmen have only previously been displayed on the islands on a short-term basis.

A five-month exhibition last year, called Lewis Chessmen: Unmasked, attracted more than 23,000 visitors.

Under the new arrangement, six pieces will go on show on a more permanent basis at the 19th Century Lews Castle following the completion of a major revamp of the building.

Archie Campbell, chairman of the comhairle’s sustainable development, said the display would be a major attraction.

He said: “These amazing little pieces will undoubtedly attract new visitors to the islands and once they are here visitors will find there is a lot more to see, enjoy and learn.

“Heritage is one of our most important assets and will make an increasing contribution to the economy of the islands.”

Angus Campbell, leader of the comhairle, said it was “highly appropriate” some of the chessmen would return to Lewis.

British Museum director Neil Macgregor said he was delighted with the partnership with Western Isles Council.

He added: “The British Museum is committed to lending its world collection and to working with partners across the UK to share objects and expertise for the benefit of the widest possible audience.”


Wed, 13/06/2012 – 16:35

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil has welcomed news that some of the Lewis Chessmen are to return home to Lewis on permanent display in 2014 – the year of ‘Scottish Homecoming’.

Mr MacNeil has been at the forefront of the campaign for the return of Chessmen to Lewis and today’s news comes almost two years to the day since Mr MacNeil met with officials at the British Museum on securing a return of the Chessmen to Lewis.

Mr MacNeil said:

“I am delighted by confirmation that at least some of the Lewis Chessmen are to return. This is great news for the Hebrides, and the timing could not be better than Scotland’s year of Homecoming.

“This has been a long campaign and the potential return was first muted when I met with the British Museum almost two years ago. It is testament to the efforts of the community and campaigners that these artefacts are coming home for permanent display.

“To say I am more than pleased with this announcement would be an understatement in the extreme. It is tremendous to see when political intentions and campaigns bear fruit.

“I am, in particular, grateful to the Comhairle for providing secure premises to house the chessmen, which was a concern.

“I always hoped that the chessmen would be a tourist attraction with economic benefits for the island.”

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