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October 2014

Opening November 22, 2014: "'Every Variety of Painting for Lodges': Decorated Furniture, Paintings and Ritual Objects from the Collection"

Starting on Saturday, November 22, 2014, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library will open a new  exhibition, “’Every Variety of Painting for Lodges’:  Decorated Furniture, Paintings and Ritual Objects from the Collection.” This exhibition draws on one of the strengths of the collection, Masonic decorative arts and regalia created in the 1800s. 

97_007_1DP1DBFeaturing over fifty different paintings, watercolor sketches and illustrated archival material--as well as painted Masonic aprons and decorated furniture--this exhibition explores the ways Freemasons have expressed their involvement with the fraternity.  The first section of the exhibition looks at some of the kinds of paintings and decorated furniture craftsman produced for Masonic lodges in the 1800s and will feature ritual objects, painted furniture and tracing boards, including a tracing board made for Trinity Lodge in Clinton, Massachusetts, in 1863 (at left).  Brothers there used this tracing board to instruct new members about different Masonic symbols’ meaning and uses. Lodge records show that in 1863 members decided to procure a new tracing board and appointed a committee to undertake the task. Committee member Levi Green (dates unknown) commissioned this tracing board and presented it to the lodge. Like many of the artists who created tracing boards and aprons for Masonic clients, the artist who painted the board for Green may have employed a printed Masonic chart as a model for his work.  

Another portion of the exhibition looks at the many ornamental painters—both amateur and professional—who drew on their talents to create colorful aprons, illustrations and designs for Masonic clientele.  Among the striking examples that will be on view  92_034S1DB_cropped is a decorated bowl by Hugo Possner (1859-1937) of Waterbury, Connecticut (at right).  As a boy, Possner moved from Germany to Connecticut with his family.  A versatile artist, over his career he decorated cars, designed murals and painted portraits and still lifes.  The bowl was presented to Frank Conley (1840-1910) of Torrington, Connecticut. Along the rim of the bowl, Possner depicted badges, banners and insignia associated with different Masonic organizations and meetings—doubtless all related to Conley’s Masonic career. Below, Possner painted different symbols, scenes and coats of arms, most modeled on illustrations in Masonic handbooks.

Aaron Bird 98_064_1T1DB_croppedOver the years, many Masons have sought to express the pride they felt from their association with Freemasonry, many by commissioning portraits that identified their membership in the fraternity.  In 1804 Benjamin Greenleaf  (1769-1821) painted Aaron Bird (1756-1822) (at left). A charter member of Cumberland Lodge No. 12 in New Gloucester, Maine, Bird became a Mason before 1803, when members of the new lodge first met. For his portrait Bird chose to wear, as his only ornament, a gold pin bearing easily recognized symbols of Freemasonry, a square and compasses, underscoring the importance Freemasonry held for him.  Bird’s portraits, and the many other objects on view in "'Every Variety of Painting for Lodges'" will give visitors a glimpse into the decorated world of the 1800s and the many ways ordinary people—as artists and as patrons—used art to articulate their connection to Freemasonry.   

 

 

Photo credits:

Tracing Board, 1863. Massachusetts.  Gift of Trinity Lodge, A.F. & A.M., Clinton, Massachusetts, 97.007.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

Bowl, 1906.  Hugo A. Possner (1859-1937), Waterbury, Connecticut. Gift of Clark Commandery No. 7, Knights Templar, Waterbury, Connecticut, 92.034a-b.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Captain Aaron Bird, 1804. Benjamin Greenleaf (1769-1821), Maine or Massachusetts. Museum Purchase, 98.064.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

 


Workshop: How to Do History with Online Mapping Tools - Register Now!

MetroBostonDataCommonCalling all lay historians, data fans, and map enthusiasts!

We are rounding out our 2014 lecture series, "Speaking of Maps: An Exploration of Cartography and History," with a free workshop.

Saturday, November 22, 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

How to Do History with Online Mapping Tools

In this workshop, participants will learn how to use online tools to create and consult maps that chart Metro Boston area history. Staff from the MetroBoston DataCommon, a provider of free applications that make it possible to map data, will collaborate with Joanne Riley, University Archivist at UMass Boston, to demonstrate how visualizations of data and space related to our region can help us understand our history. Whether you are interested in exploring demographics, economy, the physical environment, cultural history, politics or more, bring your curiosity and your questions. Our presenters will share examples and point the way to potential uses of digital mapping for your local history research. This workshop is free thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation. Space is limited; registration is required. Contact: programs@monh.org.

This workshop is offered by representatives of two local resources for historical material and data visualization:

As University Archivist at the UMass Boston library, Joanne Riley coordinates extensive collections that complement those of the Massachusetts State Archives and the John F. Kennedy Library. The university's urban mission and strong support of community service is reflected in the department's collections of records of urban planning, social action, alternative movements, and community organizations. In that context, Joanne oversees the Mass. Memories Road Show project, a long-term project to collect and archive images and oral history related to Massachusetts communities. She is a member of the advisory board of Mapping Thoreau Country, a project that takes of advantage of digital technologies to use historical maps to organize and interpret images, documents, and information related to Henry David Thoreau's travels throughout the United States.

The MetroBoston DataCommon is an interactive data portal and online mapping tool that provides a wealth of information about the region’s people, communities and neighborhoods through a wide variety of topics -- from arts and education to the environment and transportation. It is a collaborative project of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and the Boston Indicators Project. The MAPC is a regional planning agency serving the 101 cities and towns of Metropolitan Boston. The Agency promotes smart growth and regional collaboration, and provides a range of analytical, planning, and mapping services to municipalities and community-based organizations in metropolitan Boston. The Boston Indicators Project is coordinated by The Boston Foundation in partnership with the City of Boston and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). Its goals are to democratize access to data and information, to foster informed public discourse and to track progress on shared civic goals.

For further information about the program, contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559 or at programs@monh.org. For information about the museum visit www.monh.org.

Image courtesy of MetroBoston DataCommon.


Lecture: Native American Contributions to the Mapping of North America, 10/4

Long before European explorers and colonists arrived in North America, indigenous inhabitants had already explored and created maps of the vast landscapes of our continent. Come to our lecture to learn how Europeans venturing into unknown territories were dependent on collaboration with Native Americans.

JRS_smallerSaturday, October 4, 2:00 p.m.

Cartographic Encounters: Native Americans in the Exploration and Mapping of North America

John Rennie Short, Professor, Department of Public Policy, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

In this lecture Professor Short will outline the role of indigenous people in the exploration and mapping of North America  Drawing on diaries, maps, and official reports, he will demonstrate how Native American guides, informants, and mapmakers were essential to European and American exploration and mapping in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Professor of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, John Rennie Short is an expert on urban issues, environmental concerns, globalization, political geography and the history of cartography. His Cartographic Encounters: Indigenous Peoples and the Exploration of the New World appeared with the University of Chicago Press in 2009.

Join Hilary Anderson Stelling, Director of Exhibitions and Audience Development, at noon on Oct. 4 for a gallery talk in an exhibition she curated, "Prized Relics: Historic Souvenirs from the Collection." She will trace how fragments of a cherished quilt, gavels made from wood from famous trees, or bits of wood and stone collected on tourists’ journeys all tell us something about their collectors and what places and events they deemed historic.

Mark your calendars for the last program in our Speaking of Maps: An Exploration of Cartography and History series:

Saturday, November 22, 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Workshop: How to Do History with Online Mapping Tools

In this workshop, participants will learn how to use an online tool to create maps that chart Metro Boston area history. Staff from the MetroBoston DataCommon, a provider of free applications that make it possible to map data, will collaborate with Joanne Riley, University Archivist at UMass Boston, to show lay historians, data fans, and map enthusiasts how visualizations of data related to our region can help us understand our history. Whether you are interested in exploring demographics, economy, the physical environment, politics or more, bring your curiosity and your questions. Our presenters will share examples and point the way to potential uses of digital mapping for your local history research. Space is limited; registration is required by November 5. Contact: programs@monh.org.

Both programs are part of a series related to the Museum and Library’s collection of historic maps. They are free thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation.

For further information, contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559 or check our website: www.monh.org.

Photo courtesy of John R. Short