National Heritage Museum

 

The museum was founded in 1975 by Scottish Rite Freemasons in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction as a museum and library of American history and popular culture. Originallyknown as the Museum of Our National Heritage, the institution changed its name in 2002. The National Heritage Museum is located in Lexington, Massachusetts,where it presents a wide range of changing exhibitions and educational programs relating to various aspects of the American experience, providing insights into matters of everyday life as well as the larger issues marking American society.Although the National Heritage Museum was organized under Masonic auspices, its programs are broadly based and diverse and not generally Masonic inorientation. However, the museum does hold an important collection of objects drawn from the visual traditions of Freemasonry in the folk and decorative arts,including paintings, textiles, ceramics, and furniture. The collection also includes objects relating to other fraternal organizations, and constitutes an especially well- preserved and documented resource for the study of American fraternalism.An important feature of the museum is its Van Gorden-Williams Library, which holds over 60,000 volumes and other scholarly materials relating to AmericanFreemasonry. This research facility, incorporating the library of the Supreme Council of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Division, is the mostcomprehensive collection of its kind in the world.Among the important exhibitions that the museum has organized relating to the history and decorative arts of American Masonry and other fraternal organizations arestudies of Masonic symbolism (1976), Masonic aprons (1980), and the material culture of American fraternal organizations (1986), each with a catalog.

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