The Museum and Library invites you to explore our newest online exhibition, Rooted in Tradition: Aprons from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library. Since Freemasonry’s early days in England, the apron has been a part of the group’s distinctive symbols and rituals.
Aprons evoke the symbolic association of Freemasonry with working stonemasons—craftsmen who wore aprons to protect their clothing from wear and dust. Decorated aprons may have emerged as a way for non-working, or symbolic, Freemasons to distinguish themselves from working, also called operative, stonemasons and other artisans.
Rooted in tradition, but also a product of their time and place, Masonic aprons show the influence of the larger society and culture as well as trends within Freemasonry. Apron shape, size, decoration, and method of manufacture reflect the era in which an apron was made. Apron designs also have a close relationship with fashion and decorative arts. The aprons and other objects highlighted in this exhibition explore these ideas and help tell the story of the history, symbolism, and workmanship behind Masonic aprons. Most importantly, they shine a light on the people who made and wore them.
This online exhibition is based on an exhibition that was on view at the Museum and Library in 2016 and 2017. You can learn more about many of the aprons in this exhibition in the 2016 publication Badge of a Freemason: Aprons from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library.
A Meeting of Free Masons for the Admission of Masters – The Master on raising the Candidate gives the Grasp, Embrace, Etc. and declares him duly Elected a Master Mason, 1812. Thomas Palser (active 1799-1843), London, England. Special Acquisitions Fund, 77.10.1f.