We invite you to a gallery talk of our major exhibition, “A Sublime Brotherhood: Two Hundred Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction,” at 2 p.m. on September 27, 2014. This will be the last chance to see the show before it closes. Aimee Newell, Ph.D., curator of the exhibition and Director of Collections at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, will lead this tour. We asked Aimee a few questions about the show and her experience giving talks to museum visitors. Here are her comments:
Q: "A Sublime Brotherhood" has been on view since June, 2013. It will be hard to say goodbye to this show celebrating the bicentennial of Scottish Rite Freemasonry. As the show’s curator, what has been the most pleasurable part of sharing these artifacts and documents with the public?
A: Many of these objects had not been on exhibit before, so it was exciting to be able to share them with the Museum & Library’s audience. We take our responsibility as stewards seriously, which means both showing off these items and caring for them in storage. I enjoyed being able to share so much early Scottish Rite history with our visitors.
Q: What would you like people to remember about this show and the artifacts and documents it contains?
A: For me, one of the most interesting things about Masonic history is how much it intersects with American society and culture. I hope that people will remember that the story of the Scottish Rite is intertwined with American history. For example, the fraternity traveled from France, to the West Indies and then to America – following trade routes of the mid-1700s. I also hope they will remember the wonderful artifacts and documents that we have in our collection and come back to see other exhibits.
Q: You have given many gallery talks about this show while it has been on view. What is the most interesting or exciting thing a participant in one of your talks has shared with you?
A: It’s exciting when people pull me aside at the end and tell me about their personal experience with the fraternity – either something about their own interest in its history, or about their relative who was a member.
Q: Could you share a favorite part of the gallery talk you give for this show?
A: My favorite part is at the beginning when I talk about my goals for putting this show together and explain what I like about studying Masonic history. I also like the part where I explain about the schism that took place on the Supreme Council in the 1860s. It’s dramatic – and it’s complicated, but I like to think that I can explain it so that visitors understand it better.
Q: For you, what distinguishes a great gallery talk from a good gallery talk?
A: I try to give the kind of gallery talk that I like to attend. I like to give an overview of the exhibit’s themes and point out some of my favorite objects. I want to encourage people to return and look more at the objects that intrigue them. I don’t want to just repeat the labels on the wall. So, for me, a great gallery talk is one where the audience has questions and is inspired to learn more.
Q: Why should people come to see "A Sublime Brotherhood" and hear your 2 p.m. gallery talk on Saturday, September 27?
A: It’s the last chance! The exhibit will be taken down so we can put up a new exhibit. While we will continue to care for these objects – and they are available for researchers to see, it will be a long time before they are all on view together again.
The exhibition celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Scottish Rite fraternity, which today encompasses 165,000 members in fifteen states. Through more than 100 objects and images ranging from decorative arts and paintings to stage costumes and folk art, “A Sublime Brotherhood” invites the visitor to travel through time to learn about the people who shaped the Scottish Rite’s Northern Masonic Jurisdiction and also about the fraternity’s contribution to its communities. To read more about the publication that accompanies the show and how to order it, check out our previous blog post.
For further information, contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559 or check our website: www.monh.org.