Exhibitions

Grand Canyon Photography Exhibition - Opening and Gallery Talks

S&A Partners-Rainbow_WebCompressThe Grand Canyon is wild and unforgiving. But it is also one of the most stunning landscapes on Earth—a place for recreation, reflection and reverence. “Lasting Light: 125 Years of Grand Canyon Photography” allows us to marvel at this natural wonder without camping equipment, emergency rations or rappelling ropes. We invite you to explore this new exhibition of Grand Canyon photography at the Museum this fall, opening on Saturday, October 13. You can discover more about the photographers and their experiences in the Grand Canyon at our gallery talks. Come learn more on:

Sat., Oct. 13, 2 PM; Sat., Nov. 17, 2 PM; Sat., Dec. 1, 2 PM. All gallery talks are free.

Featuring 60 color photographs, the exhibition is a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the Grand Canyon Association. Early photographers got the perfect shot by dangling from cables, their cumbersome camera equipment balanced precariously on their shoulders. More recently, photographers have created bold and dramatic images, revealing the canyon’s capricious weather, its flora and fauna, waterfalls and wading pools, and awe-inspiring cliffs and rock formations. Contemporary images in the exhibition were selected by representatives from Eastman Kodak’s Professional Photography Division and National Geographic.

Grand Canyon National Park, 2,000 square miles of snaking river beds and sheer rock walls, is a world like no other, where vibrant cliffs and flowing water create a striking complement to the Western sky. “What you do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American should see,” Teddy Roosevelt urged. Roosevelt, ever the naturalist, was just one of the canyon’s devotees. There are millions of others, including the 26 featured photographers of “Lasting Light,” who ran the river and climbed the rocks to capture these breathtaking images.

GCA 26-5 JDykinga Toroweap Sunrise_WebCompress“The Grand Canyon taught me a way of seeing. How to see light and design,” said featured photographer John Blaustein. This and other dedicated artists share their insight into the power of the canyon in intriguing narratives that accompany the exhibition’s photographs.

 

“Lasting Light: 125 Years of Grand Canyon Photography” is an exhibition created by the Grand Canyon Association and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). The Grand Canyon Association is a non-profit, membership organization founded to support education, scientific research and other programs for the benefit of Grand Canyon National Park and its visitors.

For further information about this exhibition or visiting the Museum, call the Museum's front desk at 781-861-6559 or refer to our website.

Photo Credits:

Rainbow, 1995. S&A Partners. Photo courtesy S&A Partners

Toroweap Overlook in Morning Light, 1987. Jack Dykinga. Photo courtesy Jack Dykinga.




Counting Down to 2013

Lectern Front2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the founding of the parent organization for the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.  In 1813, the Scottish Rite Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, USA, was formed.  Over the coming months, you will read more about this anniversary and the history of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction on our blog.  We will also open an exhibition about the NMJ next spring (check our website for details as Spring 2013 approaches!).

The Museum & Library actively collects objects and documents from the Scottish Rite.  Many of the objects already in our collection are gifts from a Scottish Rite member or local group to the governing body, the Supreme Council, which is located in Lexington, Massachusetts, on the same campus as the Museum.

One of the most eyecatching gifts now in the collection is a lectern that was presented to the Supreme Council in 1931 by the DeWitt Clinton Consistory of the Valley of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Constructed from several different woods, and inlaid with miniature Masonic symbols, the lectern shows an Egyptian Revival style and sports a book holder at top supported by the Scottish Rite's double-headed eagle symbol.  A silver plaque on the lectern credits the design of the piece to Edgar A. Somes, the inlay to T.A. Conti, and the fabrication to Century Furniture Company and Associates.  Grand Rapids, Michigan, was a center of American furnituremaking during the late 1800s and early 1900s; the pride that makers took in their craft is evident from this lectern.Lectern plaque

The lectern was presented to Commander Leon M. Abbott at the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's 1931 annual meeting in Detroit, Michigan.  At the meeting, a representative from Michigan explained that the Egyptian style was chosen because of its connection to Masonic rituals and symbols.

Scottish Rite Lectern, 1931, Century Furniture Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Gift of the Supreme Council, 33o, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, USA, 2010.042.31.  Photographs by David Bohl.


"Threads of Brotherhood" Gallery Talk on Saturday, Sept. 15

Join us at 2 PM on Saturday, September 15 for an intriguing free talk in the “Threads of Brotherhood: Masonic Quilts and Textiles" gallery. Aimee Newell, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library's Director of Collections, will explore women's contribution to Freemasonry in the 1800s and the 1900s.

How could women play a role in the impact that Freemasonry, an exclusively male organization, has had on American culture? Tangible evidence of women's support for their male relatives' Masonic activities are the skillfully executed textile work on view at the Museum in the "Threads of Brotherhood" exhibition.

Since the 1700s, this work has connected women not only to family and tradition, but also to the larger community. Auxiliary groups of women have contributed to Masonic organizations for centuries, helping them fundraise, sewing their regalia, and providing lodge decoration. By stitching a quilt or hooking a rug, a woman could both demonstrate support of her relations’ Masonic activities, as well as her knowledge of Masonic symbolism and ethics. These cherished family heirlooms that signified family identification with Freemasonry also functioned as educational tools – teaching family members about Masonic symbols and reminding Masons of the lessons they learned in the lodge. And, like the quilts used to fundraise for political or social causes, Masonic quilts and textiles were – and still are – used to raise money for Masonic projects and charities.

76_33_1 3 figures_croppedOne of the objects you will see in the exhibition is this needlework picture, stiched on silk that has been painted with watercolors. The young woman who created it in 1808 copied the design of a Past Master’s certificate to commemorate Benjamin Russell’s (1761-1845) term as Master of Boston’s Rising States Lodge. You can read a previous blog post by Aimee Newell that explores how the detail in the image celebrates Bejamin Russell's tenure as Master of the Rising States Lodge. If you are curious about Benjamin Russell himself, here is a link to J. L. Bell's Boston 1775 posts on this very interesting personality.  

Textiles can teach us about the individuals who them.  Between the end of the 1700s and the 1820s, some young women, and possibly the unknown maker of this object, attending female academies.  These educational institutions catered to daughters of elite and middling families.  At these academies students honed their needlework skills and may have received instruction in making silk and watercolor embroidered pictures like this one. Needlework pictures were often vibrant scenes done in rich - and costly - materials based on Biblical, historical, memorial, and literary sources. Many female academies also offered instruction in academic subjects such as French, geography, and mathematics, in addition to needlework.  An education at a female academy in the early 1800s represented an investment on the part of a young student's family.  In some cases, costs for tuition, board, and materials at a female academy could rival that of sending a young man to college.

Join us for this gallery talk and see what other stories can be told through the Masonic quilts and textiles featured in "Threads of Brotherhood." There will be another staff-led gallery talk about this exhibition on Saturday, October 20. It will be held at 1 PM so that participants can attend the 2 PM lecture by Pamela Weeks on "Quilts for Civil War Soldiers: Stories from the Home Front and the Battlefield."

The gallery talk is free. For further information, call the Museum's front desk at 781-861-6559 or refer to our website.

Photo credit:

Masonic Needlework Picture, 1808. Massachusetts. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, Special Acquisitions Fund, 76.33.1.  Photograph by John M. Miller


Celebrating a Past Master

76_33_1T1This silk needlework picture from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection is one of my favorite pieces.  It shows allegorical figures of Wisdom (Athena wearing a helmet), Strength (Hercules wearing a lion skin and holding crossed keys) and Beauty (Venus trailing a rose vine) and commemorates the service of Benjamin Russell (1761-1845) as Master of Boston's Rising States Lodge in 1808.

The silk background fabric has been painted with watercolors to create the blue sky with white clouds and the grassy ground.  An all-seeing eye at top, symbolizing watchfulness, and the faces of the figures have also been painted onto the fabric, likely by a professional artist.  The unidentified maker of this picture, probably a young woman, then used silk thread to stitch the central monument.  Masonic symbols and an inscription complete the picture.  Pictures like this one were expensive to make and required a stitcher to have skill with the needle.  If the stitcher made mistakes and stitches had to be pulled out, it could cause holes in the fabric, ruining the piece.

The design for the needlework comes from a Masonic Past Master's Certificate, originally engraved by John Hawksworth, active in England between about 1815 and 1845.  The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library holds eight examples of the printed certificate.  One, for Richard Colton of Northfield, Massachusetts' Harmony Lodge is dated 1818, but the other seven were presented during between 1896 and 1954, suggesting that the design remained popular for a long time and was restruck at least once.  The collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, on extended loan to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, also includes two examples of the certificate, one dated 1821 and one dated 1916.

The inscription on the needlework picture reads: "To all regular Lodges / The Rt. Worshipfull presiding and / past Masters / thereof / The / Members of / Rising States Lodge / situate in th[e] Town of Boston / No. under our jurisdiction / Elected Bror. / Benj. Russell / the bearer Most Worshipfull Master / A.L. 58 In which / station he was a Light to his / Brethren and an ornament to the / Craft / This testimonial of his meritorious / service recommends him to / the hospitality A.L. / and protection due to a faithful overseer / 5808 / by order of the Most Worshipfull Grand Ma[ster] / John Proctor Grand Secretary."

Benjamin Russell, who published Boston's Columbian Centinel newspaper from 1784 until 1829, joined the city's Rising States Lodge in the 1790s, later affiliating with Boston's St. John's Lodge in 1811.  From 1814 through 1816, Russell served as Grand Master of Massachusetts.

The picture is currently (August 2012) on view at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in our exhibition, Threads of Brotherhood: Masonic Quilts and Textiles (see our previous post about the exhibition and this post about related gallery talks).  We hope you will plan a visit soon to see this picture in person!

Masonic Needlework Picture, 1808, Unidentified Maker, Massachusetts, Special Acquisitions Fund, 76.33.1.  Photograph by John M. Miller.


Treasured Lands - Final Gallery Talk

Quang-Tuan Luong at workAll good things must come to an end. The last day to view "Treasured Lands: The Fifty-Eight National Parks in Focus" is Saturday, August 4.

Join us for a final gallery talk on Saturday, August 4 at 2 PM in the "Treasured Lands" gallery. Photographer Quang-Tuan Luong has created stunning works depicting the natural beauty of America's landscapes. We will explore his techniques as well as his artistic project of capturing all of America’s national parks in large-format photographs.

The gallery talk is free. For further information, call the Museum's front desk at 781-861-6559 or refer to our website.

For more on Quang-Tuan Luong and his work, read two of our previous blog posts: on how the exhibition has been received by the public and on the show itself.

Credit: Quang-Tuan Luong at work in King’s Canyon National Park, August 2007. Photograph by Buddy Squires. © Buddy Squires, used with permission.


Gallery Talks: "Threads of Brotherhood: Masonic Quilts and Textiles"

2010_006DP1 Statue Liberty quilt_WebCompressWhat contribution did women’s textiles make to Freemasonry’s vibrant shaping of American families and communities in the 1800s and the 1900s?

To find out, join Director of Collections Aimee E. Newell on Saturday, July 28, 2:00 p.m. in the "Threads of Brotherhood: Masonic Quilts and Textiles" exhibition. This free gallery talk will offer visitors insights into how women demonstrated knowledge of Masonic values with their needles and created lasting reminders of their skills. This new exhibition features more than 25 quilts, coverlets, needlework pictures, and hooked rugs drawn from the Museum's collection. It tells a compelling story of connected lives and shared values.

We will offer two "Threads of Brotherhood" gallery talks in the fall:

Saturday, September 15, 2:00 p.m. and Saturday, October 20, 1:00 p.m.

2002_008T1 cover quilt_WebCompressThe October gallery talk is scheduled prior to Pamela Week's 2 p.m. lecture on Civil War quilts for soldiers.  Combined, the two programs provide an ideal opportunity to explore how women used their needlework to help shape public life in 19th century America.

Save the dates! We'll see you at the Museum!

Photo Credits:

Lady Liberty Lights the Way, 1985, Nancy M. Crasco, Massachusetts. Gift of Nancy Crasco, 2010.006.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Masonic Quilt, 1880-1920, unidentified maker, probably Ohio.  Musuem purchase, 2002.008. Photograph by David Bohl.


Threads of Brotherhood: Masonic Quilts and Textiles

2002_008T1Make plans now to come see our newest exhibition, "Threads of Brotherhood: Masonic Quilts and Textiles," which opens June 16, 2012, and runs through late 2012.  The exhibition includes over 25 objects from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection.

Textiles incorporating Masonic symbols, both home-made and commercially manufactured, have served many functions since the 1700s.  They have transmitted family memories and history, becoming cherished heirlooms.  They signified family identification with Freemasonry.  Creating these objects offered an opportunity for the maker to display their skills.  These textiles also functioned as educational tools - teaching family members about Masonic symbols and reminding Masons of the lessons they learned in the lodge.  Like the quilts used to fundraise for political or social causes, Masonic quilts and textiles were - and still are - used to raise money for Masonic projects and charities.

The quilt above employs several Masonic symbols, appliqued in red, green and gold, a popular color combination during the late 1800s.  The central motif in each block is a square and compasses symbol (representing reason and faith) with a stylized G in the middle (symbolizing God, geometry, or both).  Trowels, mauls, plumbs and levels decorate the borders.  The quilt offered its maker a way to learn about the values represented by the symbols.  It may have been a gift to a Freemason and could have reminded the recipient of Masonic lessons.

The exhibition also includes other forms of needlew76_33_1T1ork, such as embroidery and rug hooking.  The needlework picture at right was stitched in Massachusetts in 1808.  Using skills learned at a local academy, the female maker copied the design of a Past Master's certificate to commemorate Benjamin Russell's (1761-1845) term as Master of Boston's Rising States Lodge.

Textiles teach us about the individuals who made and enjoyed them, but also about the place of Freemasonry in American society.  Please enjoy these "threads of brotherhood" as they tell a story of connected lives and shared values.  Visit our website for more information.  And, after you visit, come back and leave us a comment below about your favorite object!

Masonic Quilt, 1880-1920, unidentified maker, probably Ohio, Museum Purchase, 2002.008.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Needlework Picture, 1808, unidentified maker, Massachusetts, Special Acquisitions Fund, 76.33.1.  Photograph by John M. Miller.

 


Visit Us on Patriots' Day!

Join Us for Patriots' Day Activites!

DSCF7856There is always plenty to do in Lexington when April vacation rolls around. The town and neighboring communities have many traditional events that commemorate the beginning of the American Revolution in 1775 and celebrate the community spirit of today. While you and your family are out, plan on dropping by the Museum for some fun programs. We've scheduled them conveniently so that they fall before or after the main reenactments and parades. Please note that the Museum will be open on Patriots' Day, Monday, April 16.

Farmer-soliderSaturday, April 14
11 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Gallery Talks: “Sowing the Seeds of Liberty: Lexington and the American Revolution”
Get the inside scoop on the tendencies and tensions in Lexington before the British marched into town on April 19, 1775. Join Museum staff for this free gallery tour.

Monday, April 16
10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Patriots’ Day Activities
Celebrate Patriots’ Day with arts and crafts activities exploring life in 1775. While you are here, take the opportunity to view "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty:  Lexington and the American Revolution." $5/family (members); $7/family (non-members).

You'll also find the Lexington Alarm Letter on display in the Museum's lobby.

Revere ladleVisitors will be interested in exploring our exhibition "Curators' Choice: Favorites from the Collection." There, you'll find two objects related to the most famous midnight rider, Paul Revere. One is a wonderfully crafted silver ladle that showcases Revere's great talent as an silversmith. It's no wonder his works were coveted in their day. The other is much more recent - it dates to 2009. It's an ice cream carton. Brigham’s, a local ice cream company, created a special edition flavor called “Paul Revere’s Rocky Ride.” The name was the contest-winning suggestion by a couple from Charlestown, Massachusetts, where Paul Revere began his ride late at night on April 18, 1775. Come see what else you can discover in Curators' Choice.

For more information about visiting the Museum, call 781-861-6559 or see our website, www.nationalheritagemuseum.org.

Photo Credits

Farmer, 2007. Joe Farnham, National Heritage Museum.

Ladle, ca. 1765, Paul Revere, Jr. (1734–1818). Boston, Massachusetts. Loaned by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.2088.


New to the Collection: A Masonic Cupboard from Indiana

CupboardOver the summer in 2010, we were alerted to the availability of this Masonic cupboard, which reportedly came from the “old Masonic Hall” in Madison, Indiana, but had most recently been part of a private collection in Ohio. After some negotiations, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchased the cupboard for its collection and had it transported to Lexington, Massachusetts.

We are always on the lookout for Masonic furniture, especially if it is accompanied by a story or documentation of its previous use. We were very excited to add the cupboard to our collection – we do not have another piece like it, nor do we have many pieces of Masonic furniture from the Midwestern United States. The symbols on the doors suggest that the local Order of the Eastern Star group organized their papers in one section, while the town’s Masonic lodge used the other two. Pencil notations remain inside over some of the dividers to remind previous users about which types of papers went where. A new Masonic building was constructed in Madison, Indiana, in 1871 and the cupboard may have been made or purchased around that time.Lobby 1-2012 v1

The cupboard has recently been placed on view in the Museum’s lobby area as part of a new exhibition of recent acquisitions for the collection (see the photograph at right). The Museum actively works to improve and refine its collection of over 17,000 objects through gifts and purchases. The new display highlights some of our recent acquisitions in order to recognize our donors and to demonstrate the kinds of things that we collect. We plan to rotate these objects once or twice a year. We hope you will plan a visit to the Museum soon – and then leave a comment here about your favorite recent acquisition!

Cupboard, 1870-1900, probably Indiana, Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Museum purchase through the generosity of Helen G. Deffenbaugh in memory of George S. Deffenbaugh, 2010.039a-r.

References:

“Masonic Chit-Chat,” The Freemason’s Monthly Magazine 30 (July 1871), 288.

Dwight L. Smith, Goodly Heritage: One Hundred Fifty Years of Craft Freemasonry in Indiana (Indianapolis, 1968).


The Lexington Alarm Letter on View at the Museum!

LexingtonAlarm_A95_011_1T1_croppedEach year around the time of the Patriots' Day holiday, the Museum is proud to display the Lexington Alarm Letter. Our document is a copy, made at Brooklyn, Connecticut on the morning of April 20th, of the original letter, written on the morning of April 19, 1775. The Connecticut copy was made by Brooklyn town officials from the original, now lost, which was sent by post rider to notify the colonies south of Massachusetts that war had begun. Visitors will have the opportunity to see the letter during its annual appearance between Wednesday, April 10 and Saturday, April 21. Please note that the Museum will be open on Patriots' Day, Monday April 16.

What makes this hand-written document such an exciting piece of American history is the urgency with which it was written. As we read the text, we can sense the shock and concern of its author, Joseph Palmer, a member of the Committee of Safety in Watertown, a near neighbor to Lexington:

Watertown Wednesday Morning near 10 o’Clock

To all the Friends of American Liberty, be it known that this Morning before breake of Day a Brigade consisting of about 1000 or 1200 Men landed at [David] Phip’s Farm at Cambridge & marched to Lexington where they found a Company of our Colony Militia in Arms, upon Whom they fired without any Provocation and killed 6 Men and Wounded 4 others.

By an Express from Boston this Moment, we find another Brigade are now upon their march from Boston supposed to be about 1000. [...]

I have spoken with Several Persons who have seen the Dead & Wounded. Pray let the Delegates from this Colony to Connecticut see this they know.

Why does Palmer emphasize the events in Lexington, failing to mention the confrontation in Concord? Perhaps he wanted to spread news that portrayed the colonists as victims in order to garner sympathy for the cause of rebellion? Certainly this was popular strategy of the patriotic colonial press, perfected in broadsheets such as "A List of the Names of the Provincials who were Killed and Wounded in the late Engagement with His Majesty's Troops at Concord, &c." 

Or perhaps there is a simpler explanation. The letter was written at 10 o'clock, only one half-hour after the skirmish at Concord's North Bridge. Not enough time had passed for witnesses of the second phase of the Battle of Lexington and Concord to reach Watertown. The encounter between Lexington's militia under Capt. John Parker and the force of 700 or so Regular Army soldiers sent out from Boston was much earlier, at around 4:30 a.m. Palmer has spoken to witnesses of the destruction at Lexington and fears that more unprovoked attacks are to come from the second brigade he has learned is on its way from Boston. His letter spreads the news of unfolding events, the outcome of which he does not yet know.

When you visit the Museum to view the Lexington Alarm letter, don't miss "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty: Lexington and the American Revolution." In the exhibition, you'll find a map that traces how a group of riders spread the alarm throughout eastern Massachusetts. The adventures of some of these riders, such as Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott, are the stuff of legend. However, countless men rode through the night of April 18 and into the morning of April 19, 1775, to let the countryside know of the unfolding events. Colonial leaders who opposed the Crown, anticipating a move by the British Army, had set a communication network in place. Towns had prepared systems using bells, drums and gunshots to call militia units to gather at specified locations. Throughout April 19th, militias from 23 Massachusetts towns fought in the battles, and many more towns were alerted.

Those curious about how the people of Lexington experienced the beginning of the American Revolution, mark your calendars and and join us for our "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty" gallery talks. We'll be offering two this year, both on Saturday, April 14. Join us at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for these free programs that explore of life in this small community where ordinary people took extraordinary actions and shaped history as a result.

For more information about visiting the Museum, call 781-861-6559 or see our website, www.nationalheritagemuseum.org.

Photo credits

Lexington Alarm Letter, 1775. Daniel Tyler. Brooklyn, Connecticut, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, # A95/011/1.