The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is one of our Scottish Rite charities. In this video, we catch up with Hilary Anderson Stelling, Director of Exhibitions and Collections, and Jeffrey Croteau, Director of the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives for a behind-the-scenes gallery tour. Hilary shows us the "The Art of American History" exhibition and Jeff shares the library and archives' central role in the NMJ for more than 40 years.
0:04 - 0:19
Brother James Dill, 33°: Michael. I snuck out the back, and I'm outside the new exhibit, The Art of American History. Hilary Anderson Stelling, who is the director of collections and exhibitions here at the museum, has started a gallery walk through. I want to share it with our audience.
0:20 - 0:45
Hilary Anderson Stelling, Director of Collections & Exhibitions: George Washington
One of the reasons why we have so many prints of George Washington is the generosity of Dr. William and Mary Guyton. They gave us a collection that they had amassed in their lifetimes of well over. It's close to 700 images of George Washington of different types. This painting here, which shows George Washington's army with the first meeting with Hamilton, was the title of the painting.
0:46 - 1:34
Hilary Anderson Stelling, Director of Collections & Exhibitions: That also is a gift of another generous donors and museum called J. Robert Merrill. And he was interested. He had some real passions as a collector. One was the Great Peace Union meeting of 1869. He was very interested in the American Centennial in 1876. He was very interested in pressed glass and he was also interested in history prints and history paintings. And part of the reason why we have a few of these is that the pilgrims were also gifts from him. And this one, it was a gift from him. And that's when they were looking at history paintings in our collection, which are some of the most interesting ones. And so we appreciate his gift again. He gave us upwards of 150 things over the course of his career as a donor to the museum.
1:35 - 2:17
Hilary Anderson Stelling, Director of Collections & Exhibitions: So this one shows this was actually done originally. This is done by a fellow called Alonzo Chapel, the painter. He was a history paper. He did all different kinds of things. This was done as a basis for an illustration in a biography of George Washington in the middle of the 1800s. George Washington has always been interesting to Americans with so many things written about him in his image in his lifetime, after his lifetime is shown over and over, reinterpreted many ways of this was a big biography. George Washington was illustrated and Alonzo Chapel travel did most of the images in this large work.
2:18 - 2:55
Hilary Anderson Stelling, Director of Collections & Exhibitions: So this was the painting that some of those small book illustrations were engraved in. And that's another thing to keep in mind that starting in the late 1800s, more and more forms of illustrated books were being published for the American market. That's another way that people become familiar with scenes in history. Now, if you look next to this one, you'll see this print and you know, we're in the George Washington section, so you can imagine it's just about right. But it's sort of a generic view. He's on a horse. This is a very traditional view.
2:55 - 3:11
Brother James Dill, 33°: Michael, just snuck out the back The Art of American History. The new exhibit here is a great example of some of the fine work that's done here at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, which I'm going to take you to now.
3:20 - 3:30
Brother James Dill, 33° Hey, Michael. I'm over in the Van Gordon-Williams Library and Archives. I want to introduce you and our audience to Jeff Croteau, who's the director here. Jeff, how are you?
3:30 - 4:00
Jeff Croteau, Director of the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives: Good. Hi, Jim. So with over 60,000 books and more than 2,000 cubic feet of archival materials, our library and archives is one of the premier repositories in the United States for the study of Freemasonry and fraternalism. And we also serve as the institutional archives of the Museum and the Supreme Council. The library collects, preserves and provides access to materials related to Masonic, Fraternal, and American history. We assist Masons, the general public, the scholarly Community museum staff, and Supreme Council staff.
4:01 - 4:32
Brother James Dill, 33°: So how do you build a great collection like this? One of the answers is giving. Donations have always formed a big part of the collection development here at the Library and Archives over the museum's nearly 45 year history, individuals and organizations have helped us make the library and archives what it is today. Through the donation of rare books, periodicals, archives, collections and financial contributions earmarked for the purchase of this type of material. Visitors to the library and archives, as well as those who encounter our collections online, benefit from this spirit of giving.
4:32 - 5:09
Jeff Croteau, Director of the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives: We have some illustrated patriotic envelopes from the American Civil War that are on view here in the reading room right now. And these are highlights from a collection of over 1,000 that were donated to the museum by Scottish Mason William Caleb Loring. And through a recent gift, the Scottish Masonic Museum & Library received this rare book. Now, this is one of only three known copies that still exist today. It's a book called Masonry Dissected, and this is the 1750 edition, and it was likely printed in Newport, Rhode Island, and it was likely printed by Ann Franklin who was Benjamin Franklin's sister in law, and she was a printer in her own right.
5:09 - 5:33
Jeff Croteau, Director of the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives: And we were able to add this book to our collection through the generosity of Carolyn Keith Sylvia, who's the granddaughter of a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge in Massachusetts. And I wrote a blog post about this on the museum's blog, so if people want to learn more about it, I encourage them to check out the museum's blog and to read more about this and a lot about the museum and library collections there.
5:33 - 5:58
James Dill, 33°: I wish we could let the viewers see this. I don't even want to touch it. It's so delicate, fragile, but it's also very cool. As a Freemason, this connection to the past, as we always can do here in this library, connects with their past. It's just. It's just a very important part of what we do here in Lexington. So is there anything else you wanted to share with us?
5:58 - 6:12
Jeff Croteau, Director of the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives: I think the last thing I wanted to add, Jim, is just to say that if anyone is watching and they are interested in donating anything to the library and archives, I encourage them to give us a call or send us an email. We're happy to talk to anyone about any potential donations that they might have.
6:12 - 6:13
Brother James Dill, 33°: It's great. Thank you for your time.
6:13 - 6:14
Jeff Croteau, Director of the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives: Thanks a lot, Jim.
6:14 - 6:27
Brother James Dill, 33°: All right, John, I'm coming back. We're going to continue to tell the world and our viewers about the great institution here at the museum and library and all the other great charities that we're trying to support here on Giving Tuesday telethon. See you in a minute, Michael.
Looking to download this video for use in your Valley? Visit this link and click the button "Download" beneath the video to export the video directly to your computer.
The Scottish Rite, NMJ Announces “The Path Forward: Empowering the Future of Freemasonry”
Read More about The Scottish Rite, NMJ Announces “The Path Forward: Empowering the Future of Freemasonry”
Highlights from A Night of Charity 2023
Read More about Highlights from A Night of Charity 2023
Youth Advisors of the Year Recognized at Annual Session
Read More about Youth Advisors of the Year Recognized at Annual Session