domingo, febrero 06, 2005

Museo Masónico en Missouri

Building to enshrine group’s history in state.

By ARCENIA HARMON of the Tribune’s staff
Published Saturday, February 5, 2005
Missouri’s Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons want to shed light on the history of their fraternity with a new museum and library.

The exhibits will be placed inside the 52,000-square-foot Masonic Complex on 6033 Masonic Drive, the corporate office of the Grand Lodge of Missouri and the not-for-profit Masonic Home.
"We want to show people what we do is good, and the only way to do that is to show your history," said Ron Miller, the grand secretary of the Grand Lodge of Missouri, which oversees 53,000 Masons and 391 lodges in the state.

As many as 10,000 square feet on the main floor of the complex off Prathersville Road, near Highway 63, will be used to display Masonic memorabilia and artifacts.

Items for display will include jewelry worn by Masons, pictures of noteworthy Masons, gavels used in meetings and a centuries-old, 24-hour brass clock from the Grand Lodge of England, where the organization began.

The display will also include the Masonic jewels of President Harry Truman, who was grand master of the Missouri Grand Lodge from 1940 to 1941.

The research library will feature Masonic documents and books that generally have not been released to the public and will be of interest to writers and researchers of Masonic history, Miller said.

"We will just tie all of the history of the Masonic Home in Missouri and freemasonry together," said Karin Bell, the executive director of the Masonic Home. "We’re hoping people will come in and get a good sense of what freemasonry does and the charity we provide for our members and community."

The 115-year-old Masonic Home provides residential facilities and health care to master Masons, their widows and wives and members of the Order of the Eastern Star, a Mason-related organization for women.

Masonry traces its beginning to craftsmen’s guilds of medieval Europe. It was formally organized under the Grand Lodge of England in 1717.

Missouri’s Grand Lodge was established in 1821, the year after Missouri became a state.

The organization lists three criteria to join. Members must be men older than 18, have no criminal record and have a belief in a supreme being.

Members say there’s no big secret to Masonry.

"It’s just a public misconception of us being a secret organization," Miller said. "Yes, there are some rituals. But the same as any organization, we don’t have to divulge our rituals."

Miller said the main work of the fraternity is improving members through study and improving the world through charity.

The museum will open within a year after a museum curator is hired to sort out artifacts and create displays.

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