Established in 1975 by Scottish Rite Freemasons of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States, the National Heritage Museum tells America’s story. For over thirty years, the museum has collected, by gift and by purchase, objects that help tell that story. Today, the collection numbers over 16,000 objects.
The collection’s primary strength is its American Masonic and fraternal items. As the largest group of objects of its kind in the United States, the Museum’s holdings include over 400 fraternal aprons, over 2,500 fraternal badges and pieces of jewelry, and more than 1,000 items of fraternal regalia, as well as household and lodge furnishings, glass, ceramics and works of art, all decorated with Masonic and fraternal symbols. The Museum manages an additional 12,000 objects and documents from the collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts under a long-term loan agreement. The Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives comprise 60,000 books, 1,600 serial titles and 2,000 cubic feet of archival materials related to American history and fraternalism. Selected treasures from our collection can be seen on our website. The Library’s catalog of printed books is also accessible online.
The Museum also collects material related to American history. These items offer different perspectives for the interpretation of important events, people, themes and issues in American history. For example, the Willis R. Michael collection of American and European clocks comprises an encyclopedic diversity of over 140 time-keeping mechanisms. Many of these clocks are currently featured in the National Heritage Museum exhibition, "For All Time," on view through February 21, 2010. The Dr. William L. and Mary B. Guyton Collection of more than 600 George Washington prints and related ephemera showcases the way that the memory of our first president has developed over the past 200 years.
The objects in the museum collection are highlighted in interpretive exhibitions, presented in educational programs and used as the focus of scholarly research. All enrich our understanding of the past. The National Heritage Museum actively seeks to add items to its collection that tell an engaging story, do not duplicate existing holdings and are in good condition.
If you have questions about the National Heritage Museum’s collection, or would like to make a gift to the collection or a financial donation to support future object purchases and conservation, we would like to hear from you. For more information, please contact Aimee E. Newell, Director of Collections, at (781) 457-4144 and anewell[at]monh.org.
Top: Masonic tracing board, ca. 1820, attributed to John Ritto Penniman (1782-1841), probably Boston, Massachusetts, National Heritage Museum, Special Acquisitions Fund, 89.76. Photograph by David Bohl. Bottom: G. Washington, 1856, A. Chappel, artist, G.R. Hall, engraver, New York City, National Heritage Museum, Dr. William L. and Mary B. Guyton Collection, 86.61.115.