Masonic Museums and Libraries to Visit in the US Part I

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Whether you’re planning your next road trip, or wanting to deepen your education and connection with Freemasonry, the US is home to some amazingly well kept Masonic museums and libraries to help you on your journey. Home to vintage artifacts, old photographs, and interesting books, these institutions are able to preserve the history of our great fraternal organization. We’ve compiled the top from across the US that are sure to impress. Here is part I:

1. Masonic Temple and Masonic Library and Museum (Pennsylvania)

The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania, a charitable arm of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, resides in the Masonic Temple of Philadelphia, constructed in 1873. The Masonic Temple itself is known as one of the great wonders of the Masonic world, filled to the brim with some of the finest artifacts of Freemasonry and a great connection to the past by outwardly displaying Masonic traditions and values.

The Museum and Library houses thousands of texts and objects relating to the history of the Fraternity and the founding of the United States. The importance of collecting and cataloging seminal works in the history of Freemasonry has remained a focus of the institution since its inception. One of the Library’s prized possessions is a book printed in Basel in 1489. It is really two books bound together, one by St. Augustine on the Trinity, and the other by Robert Holkot on the Apocryphal Book The Wisdom of Solomon. The next time you’re in the area, be sure to book a tour! Or, you can also access their online resource and lending service here.

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2. Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M., of Virginia Library, Museum & Historical Foundation

The Grand Lodge of Virginia Library, Museum & Historical Foundation preserves, collects and restores the Masonic records and artifacts of Virginia’s Masonic history. The museum is rich with portraits, Masonic regalia, anniversary commemorative items of Grand Lodge and local Lodges, furniture, glassware, porcelain, stoneware, and aprons.

Equally as extensive, the library also houses 8,000 volumes of Masonic works representing Virginia’s Masonic history, U.S. and overseas Masonic history, Masonic history in general and histories of local Virginia Lodges. The library is also available to help with genealogical research by providing Masonic membership information about Masons in Virginia!

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3. Michigan Masonic Museum and Library

Founded in 1979, the Michigan Masonic museum and Library is home to over 6,000 photographs, fine officer jewels, antique Masonic aprons, charts, and carpets, and the largest and most comprehensive collection of rare books on Masonry.

Within their rare book collection, about 600 volumes of the publications came from the collection of James Fairbairn Smith, a well-known Masonic scholar and publisher from Detroit. Some volumes even date back to the 1700s! Other pieces that call the Michigan Masonic Museum and Library home include archives of the Grand Lodge, which traces of Masonry back to when Lewis Cass was the first Grand Master in 1826.

The library also lends our books to the public as well as organizes presentations on some of the artifacts on display at the Museum. Sounds like a great lodge outing to us!

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4. Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York

As one of the world’s foremost repositories of Masonic books and artifacts, the Livingston Masonic Library has over 50,000 artifacts and 60,000 writings available for visitors and researchers alike to observe.

Founded in the 1850s to house the books and records held by the Grand Lodge of New York, the library expanded in the late 19th century with the addition of the collection of Robert Morris, Masonic poet laureate, and continued to grow through donations and acquisitions of new books relating to Freemasonry. Since then, the library has become the premiere center for Masonic research, a status validated in 1983 with the achievement of a charter from the New York State Board of Regents as the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge. Better yet, the library is also home to the Livingston Library Lecture Series, which is available to watch online here.

Have you been to any of these museums or plan to make a visit this year? We want to hear about it! Send us an email about your experiences at masonicstories@srnmj.org.