Masonic Museums and Libraries to Visit in the US Part II

Spotlight on Our Own Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library

We present to you Masonic Museums and Libraries to Visit in the US Part II, a continuation piece to our previous blog post. Enjoy four more amazing Masonic collections around the country that you won’t want to miss when planning your next trip. We spotlight our own jewel in the crown, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.


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5. Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center

Over the years, the Minnesota Masonic Charities and the new Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center has greatly influenced Minnesota history and the lives of its residents through Freemasonry.

Serving as a working tribute to the concepts and contributions of Freemasonry, the center provides the public with an intimate and elegant destination for performances and scholarship pursuits and features a 443-seat auditorium with jewel-box theatre, in addition to their Masonic museum and library. The Colonel James B. Ladd Museum offers 3,700 SF of state-of-the-art space to share this rare collection through interactive displays.

Six galleries showcase the history of Masonry in Minnesota, the factual and fanciful histories of Freemasonry and the extensive charitable works of the Fraternity. The best part? Admission is free!

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6. Grand Lodge of Iowa Masonic Library and Museum

Opened in 1884, the Iowa Masonic Library was the first Masonic library building in the world. Originally, the building was supposed to last one hundred years, but due to an influx of daily traffic and attention, the building was demolished and rebuilt in 1955 into the structure that stands today.

Regarded as one of the best Masonic Research facilities in the world, the library houses over 150,000 volumes of rare Masonic books for the “serious” researcher, and a circulating collection for the more “casual” reader. There also several special collections including: A.E. Waite Collection of esoteric and occult science, Dr. Arthur W. Erskine Collection of original papers and materials in the field of X-ray technology, Joseph A. Walkes Collection of Prince Hall Masonry, and the Harvey Collection of Landscape Architecture.

In addition to their vast written works, the museum houses Masonic decorative arts, regalia, equipment, artifacts, medallions and jewels from around the world, a collection of Lincoln memorabilia, and a civil war battle flag. There is also a three-paneled painting entitled, “The First Three Degrees of Freemasonry”, the only known Masonic painting of Iowa artist Grant Wood, a member of Mount Hermon Lodge No. 263 of Cedar Rapids.

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7. House of the Temple, Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction

The House of the Temple Museum and Library in Washington, DC is no stranger to history, philosophy and symbolism. The building holds numerous artifacts which comprises their Masonic collection, International collection, Abraham Lincoln collection, and the Robert Burns Library. They even have a few smaller, specialized collections such as the Claudy collection on the works of Goethe and the L.M collection of esoteric literature.

The museum’s international collection is especially impressive and consist of five sections: Manuscripts and correspondence submitted to the Supreme Council, photographs stored in their archive, material objects in cases, foreign periodicals located in their main stacks, and numerous bookcases in their large reading room. The collection was established in 1933 and has more than 4,000 volumes from 68 countries. About 75% of their Masonic collection is located in their online catalogue. The House of the Temple is also very active on Twitter and posts about unique items and event updates on a weekly basis.

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8. A Spotlight on The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library

Like the Oscars, we present what we consider the gem in the crown as an ending flourish -- our own Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in Lexington, MA. Not only a renowned institution in its own right, the Museum & Library is also the home of Supreme Council headquarters. It was was established in 1975 by the Scottish Rite Freemasons of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction on the occasion of the bicentennial. The Museum’s goal is to be the “historical society” of American Freemasonry by collecting, preserving, interpreting and ultimately celebrating the history of fraternalism. It is currently presenting the exhibitions “The Art of American History,” and “Keeping Time: Clockmakers and Collectors.” The Museum houses more than 17,000 objects related to American Freemasonry, fraternalism, and American history.

The Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives is one of the premiere repositories in the United States for the study of Freemasonry and fraternalism. Its other major collecting area is American history. The Library & Archives has one of the world’s most comprehensive collections on the subject of American Freemasonry. The collection comprises over 60,000 books, 1,600 serial titles and 2,000 cubic feet of archival materials related to Freemasonry, fraternalism, and American history.

The Library & Archives is open to the public and is located off the Museum’s main lobby. Readers and scholars are encouraged to contact the Library & Archives staff with research questions and are invited to visit the Reading Room. Masons who live within a two-hour drive of the Museum & Library may borrow books from the Wallace M. Gage Collection, a circulating collection that is part of the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives.

There is no shortage of unique and historical objects, books, documents etc. one will find at 33 Marrett Road, Lexington, MA. Be in touch with questions, or better yet, visit soon.

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An exhibition gallery in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library

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The Van-Gorden Williams Library & Archives Reading Room