Past Exhibitions Archivesmonh_admin2018-02-01T14:00:11+00:00
Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Past Exhibitions Archive
With Banners Waving
A Sublime Brotherhood
Journeys and Discoveries
Threads of Brotherhood
Collecting at the Museum…
Fight, Save, Buy, Wake Up!
The Enchanted Clocks
Made in Massachusetts
Sowing the Seeds of Liberty
Inspired by Fashion
American Family Treasures
The Initiated Eye
The Art of the Movie Theatre
Jim Henson’s Fantastic World
For All Time
The Way We Worked
The Grand Lodge of MA
A Penny for Your Thoughts
Keepers of Tradition
Augustus Frederick Sherman
There’ll be a hot time…
To Fly to the Aid of Humanity
To Build and Sustain
Unlocking the Code
Pets in America
The Art of the Needle
For Every Fighter…
19th Century Patents
Handled with Care
Journey Out of Darkness
Gershwin to Gillespie
Picturing What Matters
Memories of World War II
The Western Pursuit…
Close-Up in Film Posters
Deep Inside the Blues
A Changing World
Lunch Box Memories
Hatch Show Print’s…
Artist to Icon
Coming Up on the Season
New England Neon
North and South U.S. Route 1
The Last Cowboy
From Dairy to Doorstep
Return to Route 66
Designing in the Wright Style
A Sublime Brotherhood
Scottish Rite Active Member Sculpture, 1983. Robert Burdette, Pekin, Illinois. Gift of the Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A., 2009.066.43. Photo by David Bohl
The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library announces the opening of the major exhibition, “A Sublime Brotherhood: Two Hundred Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.” The exhibition celebrates the 200th anniversary of the fraternity, which today encompasses 165,000 members in fifteen states. The exhibition is ongoing.
Through more than 100 objects and images ranging from decorative arts and paintings to stage costumes and folk art, “A Sublime Brotherhood” invites the visitor to travel through time to learn about the people who shaped the Scottish Rite’s Northern Masonic Jurisdiction and also about the fraternity’s contribution to its communities. Freemasonry is a fraternal organization for men that teaches a system of ethics using symbols, rituals and ideas drawn from stonemasons’ regulations, Enlightenment philosophy and Judeo-Christian teachings. It seeks to enhance and strengthen a man’s character by providing opportunities for fellowship, charity, education and leadership. Freemasons often call the Scottish Rite “the University of Freemasonry,” as the higher degrees it confers supplement and amplify philosophical lessons by exploring the values, history and moral principles that guide members.
Auditorium Showing Stage, Masonic Cathedral, A.A.S.R., Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, 1908. J.E. Roys, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Purchase, A96/066/1150. Photo by David Bohl
While most people assume the Scottish Rite was established in Scotland, it was actually founded in France in the mid-1700s. Early Scottish Rite organizations were started in places like the Dominican Republic and the West Indies, eventually taking root in upstate New York, New Orleans, and Philadelphia. On May 31, 1801, the Scottish Rite formalized its existence in the United States when members gathered in Charleston, South Carolina, and opened a meeting of the “Supreme Council 33° of Freemasonry.” This body has survived to the present day and is now known as the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A. In the early 1800s, several prominent Masons established organizations in New York that competed with the Charleston Supreme Council. After much deliberation, in 1813 the Charleston Supreme Council granted a charter that established and gave sovereignty to the Supreme Council, 33°, for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America. This historic charter is included in the exhibition.
“Fourteenth Degree” and “Provost and Judge [7°],” The Rituals of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, 1869. Israel Thorndike Hunt (1841-1905), Nashua, New Hampshire. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, SC155, R-230. Photo by David Bohl
“A Sublime Brotherhood” delves into many facets of Masonic history including the era of growth and prosperity from 1867 through the 1920s. During these years, the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction adopted a new constitution, consolidated existing local groups (called Valleys), and established new ones. The exhibition also explores the ritual regalia used by Scottish Rite members in the 1800s and 1900s. Israel Thorndike Hunt’s hand painted illustration of a member dressed for the 7th degree, “Provost and Judge,” from The Rituals of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, 1869, allows visitors to see some of the regalia from the mid 1800s.
During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction crafted new, elaborate theatrical rituals for which they became well known. Instead of initiating a few men at a time, the staged degrees were viewed by hundreds of men at once.
These new ritual productions, as well as a membership that had grown to over 213,000 brothers, prompted local Scottish Rite leaders throughout the Jurisdiction to find or build new structures that would accommodate their increasing membership. The Masonic Cathedral built in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, in the early 1900s is reflective of this trend. A 1908 postcard of the Cathedral’s grand stage on view in the exhibition speaks to this vibrant period of growth within the Scottish Rite.
Scottish Rite Rose Croix Apron, 1820-1850. Unidentified Maker. France. Gift of the Supreme Council, The Netherlands, 81.30. Photo by David Bohl
The Great Depression adversely affected the Jurisdiction’s impressive membership gains made during the early 1920s, leading to a decrease of 100,000 Scottish Rite members by 1941. The fraternity, however, soon recovered. Melvin Maynard Johnson (1871-1957) took the reins of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction in 1933 and led the fraternity through the Great Depression and World War II. Johnson also made great contributions to the Supreme Council’s charitable programs. By the time Johnson retired in 1953, the membership of the Scottish Rite rebounded from 208,393 to 422,051.
During the early 1970s, the Scottish Rite Supreme Council moved its offices from downtown Boston to Lexington, Massachusetts. The new location allowed space for a house for the Sovereign Grand Commander and to construct the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. Scottish Rite leaders continued to pursue charitable projects during the 1980s and 1990s. A membership-sponsored college scholarship program was introduced, as well as a network of learning centers to help children overcome the challenge of dyslexia. Recently, the fraternity has renewed its focus on its members and worked to strengthen the fund which helps brothers and their families when they encounter unexpected obstacles. Member loyalty to the fraternity is seen in the charming sculpture by Robert Burdette, which depicts a Scottish Rite Mason wearing a cap signifying his status as an Active Member.
Current Sovereign Grand Commander John William McNaughton has called attention to the fraternity’s need for change. Technology is used to enhance convenience for members, with some degrees are now available on DVD. This allows Valleys to present the degrees more frequently and more cost-effectively.
Said Sovereign Grand Commander John William McNaughton, “The Scottish Rite remains focused on strengthening the bonds of brotherhood. Just as the founding members did in 1813, today’s members come together for fellowship and fun. While we cannot see what will happen over the next 100 years, members will stay true to the basic principles behind the Scottish Rite while we adapt, evolve, and grow with the times.”
Franklin Opening the Lodge, 1896. Kurz and Allison (partnership 1880-1899), Chicago, IL. Special Acquisitions Fund, 81.56. Photo by David Bohl.
Washington as a Freemason, 1870. Strobridge and Company, Cincinnati, OH. Special Acquisitions Fund, 78.74.18. Photo by David Bohl.
Throughout the 1800s, Freemasonry and similar organizations experienced a great surge in popularity. By 1900, over six million people belonged to American fraternal groups, many of which were inspired by Freemasonry. The prevalence of these groups in American culture was expressed in many ways, among them, the numerous intriguing and colorful prints produced from the 1700s through the 1900s.
Benjamin Franklin’s (1706-1790) lifelong commitment to Freemasonry is celebrated in this print. After becoming a Freemason in Philadelphia in 1731, he was active in the fraternity for over 50 years. Franklin’s status as a cherished hero of the American Revolution made publishers realize that this print would appeal to lodges across the nation.
During the 1800s, prints and engravings of famous American figures were very popular. Perhaps no hero sold more prints than George Washington (1732-1799). Initiated as a Freemason in Virginia, Washington was revered by his brethren, then and now.
Scottish Rite Banner,1890-1930, American. Gift of the Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A., 2011.017
By 1900, over 250 fraternal groups existed in the United States, numbering six million members. Banners were an important component of American fraternal activities. These colorful textiles were used inside lodges and also in public parades, at cornerstone layings and at other ceremonies. Many fraternal groups included their banner when they took formal portraits. Parade accessories and images showing how banners were used during the 1800s and 1900s are also presented.
This banner received much-needed conservation treatment as part of a grant awarded to the Museum by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Prior to treatment it showed damage from long-term exposure to the environment and stress from gravity. Windsor Conservation of Dover, Massachusetts, cleaned and stabilized the most critical structural damage, and re-attached fringe trimming, the valance. They also repaired the banner’s decorative tassels.
Secret Scripts: Masonic and Fraternal Ritual Books
14th degree lodge room from The Secret Directory: Book I, 1867. Published by the Supreme Council, 33°, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, Boston, MA. Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Collection, RARE 14.71 .D4-14 1867. Photo by David Bohl.
The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum’s Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives maintains a large collection Masonic and fraternal ritual books and manuscripts. Sixteen of these important works are on view in the library’s reading room in the exhibition “Secret Scripts: Masonic and Fraternal Ritual Books.”
”Secret Scripts” features rituals of the Symbolic Lodge, the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry – including its well-known 33° – and rituals of other fraternal organizations that were influenced by Freemasonry. Objects on view range from a handwritten 33° degree ritual from 1801 to a printed Masonic cipher from the 1930s. All are historic and do not represent present-day ritual.
Ceremonial initiation is a defining element of Freemasonry and of other fraternal groups. During initiations, candidates participate in a series of dramatic ritual ceremonies called “degrees.” These degrees teach moral and ethical lessons through symbol and drama. For members, ritual presents an opportunity to initiate new members through a solemn, dramatic ceremony that they have experienced themselves.
Ritual initiation degrees can be thought of as plays, which feature the candidate as the main protagonist, while other members of the lodge take on other dramatic roles in the cast. Most ritual degrees involve a journey – narratively, figuratively, or, oftentimes, both. Ritual books – like those on display in the exhibition – contain the scripts to these plays. As with a play, the participants memorize their lines. These books were not used during the degree ceremony, but to help participants prepare.
Non-members have long been fascinated with ritual because of its association with secrecy. Members of fraternal organizations have not always agreed about what parts of ritual may be described and what should not be divulged to the uninitiated. Organizations privately published ritual books and distributed them to members. Many Masonic rituals have been printed in cipher, insuring that, even if a non-member saw a ritual book, he could not read it.
Ritual initiation is an experience that, some initiates say, one must go through in order to comprehend. Although ritual books and manuscripts are essential to ritual, they are just one piece of a dramatic whole. The objects on view in the exhibition offer us a glimpse into the mysteries of initiation that—over time—all new candidates have come seeking.
Novi Belgii Novaeque Angliae nec non Pennsylvaniae et partis Virginiae Tabula, ca. 1680. Published by Justus Danckers or Danckerts (1635–1701), Amsterdam, Netherlands. Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives, 006-75. Photograph by David Bohl.
What is a map? Maps are data; layers of text, images and symbols that represent a place at a certain time. Maps can help us find our way, imagine far away places or understand political and geographical relationships. The Museum and Library, founded in 1975, counted historic maps among its first acquisitions. The 40 maps and related objects presented in a new exhibition, “Journeys and Discoveries: The Stories Maps Tell” draw on the Museum’s outstanding holdings in that area.
The exhibition is divided in to five sections, and explores the world of maps from the work of the cartographer to how students have learned from maps, how travelers used maps for real and imagined journeys, and how politicians and merchants employed maps to further their quests for power and influence.
Carte Tres Curieuse de la Mer du Sud…, 1719. Compiled and published by the Chatelain family, Zacharie Chatelain (d. 1723) and Henri Abraham Chatelain (1684-1743), Amsterdam, Holland. Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives, 001-1975 1719. Photograph by David Bohl.
Crafting these complicated images required the work of many hands. To create a map, a mapmaker needed a survey of the area he wished to map. A surveyor measured the land using compasses, chains and other tools and then plotted this information on a survey. A cartographer turned surveys and other information into a drawing, or manuscript map. Draftsmen and engravers translated the cartographer’s drawing onto a plate from which multiple copies of the map could be made. Printers and publishers produced, marketed and sold maps. Working together, these craftsmen left us valuable and intriguing records of the past.
Maps for Professionals and Students
In the 1600s and 1700s, pursuing certain professions required a thorough understanding of how to make and use maps. Surveyors, soldiers and sea captains needed to be able to read—and often create—maps to do their jobs. Merchants and politicians also employed maps in their work.
Game of the States, ca. 1960. Manufactured by the Milton Bradley Company, Springfield, Massachusetts. Gift of Mrs. John Willey, 2006.026.2
In the 1800s, maps became increasingly available. As the U.S. grew, surveyors and cartographers measured, explored and mapped more of the country. Advances in printing technology and brisk competition between publishers made maps more affordable and readily obtainable. Schools taught geography and map literacy to children. Educators encountered an understanding of the outlines and geographical components of the country as a way of developing citizenship and fostering a shared national identity. To these ends, many publishers produced educational and ornamental maps to help teach students, some even manufactured map-based games to help children and families learn more about the U.S. including Milton Bradley’s popular “Game of States,” which is still manufactured today.
United States Chart of Knowledge, ca. 1931. Published by S.G. Bocholtz, Chart of Knowledge Co. of America, Boston, Massachusetts. Gift of Dorothy A. and Albert H. Richardson, 85.53.18
Many maps—from a depiction of an entire continent to a survey of a single property—were created to let people know who owns what. Many maps of North America printed in the 1700s reflect power struggles between European nations as well as Native American nations’ waning influence on the continent. The beautiful ca. 1680 Novi Belgii Novaeque Angliae… demonstrates that even as the Netherlands’ power waned in the North America, Amsterdam mapmakers continued to produce decorative maps that celebrated the Dutch mark on and understanding of the continent.
Wars also breed maps. In addition to charting political conflicts, maps can also show how battles unfolded. For example, to help British news consumers follow important events during the American Revolution, London mapmakers published many views of the far-off colonies and towns where British soldiers and colonists fought for territory as illustrated in the 1775 handsome map, “A Plan of the Town and Harbour of Boston ….” World War II prompted the publication of countless maps. Some helped the public stay informed, while others were designed for soldiers’ specific needs. A silk escape and evasion map of the far east owned by a Massachusetts airman is included in the exhibition.
Journeys of the Imagination
For years, explorers and adventurers have published maps to illustrate where they have been and depict what they encountered there. Some of the maps displayed in this exhibition, published with accompanying expedition narratives, took readers on journeys to the Oregon, Utah, and Northwestern Territories they could not have experienced in person. Combined with narratives, these maps helped a curious reader trace an explorer’s footsteps without ever having to leave home. These exploration and travel maps continue to spark the imagination. Looking at them, we can envision expeditions, discoveries and adventures, and—most intriguingly—the past.
Join Museum staff for free talks in the “Journeys and Discoveries” gallery. To see the dates and times of these programs, please refer to our programs page.
Threads of Brotherhood: Masonic Quilts and Textiles
Lady Liberty Lights the Way, 1985. Nancy M. Crasco, Massachusetts. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, Gift of Nancy Crasco, 2010.006. Photo by David Bohl.
“Threads of Brotherhood: Masonic Quilts and Textiles,” is a new exhibition of more than 25 quilts, coverlets, needlework pictures, and hooked rugs opening at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library on June 16, 2012. Drawn from the Museum’s collection, the exhibition tells a compelling story of connected lives and shared values.
In 1900, there were almost one million Freemasons in the United States. Though often viewed as a secret, closed society, Freemasonry was actually visible in almost every American community during the 1800s and 1900s. And, while only men could be members of mainstream lodges, their wives and daughters were not completely excluded. They could join Masonic female auxiliaries, recognize Masonic symbols, and demonstrate this knowledge with their needles.
Masonic Quilt, 1880–1920. Probably Ohio. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, Museum Purchase, 2002.008. Photo by David Bohl.
Textiles incorporating Masonic symbols, both home made and commercially manufactured, have served many functions since the 1700s, such as transmitting family memories and history as they became heirlooms passed down through generations, signifying family identification with Freemasonry, and offering their makers a voice to demonstrate knowledge of the fraternity. A redwork quilt designed by Freemason Freeland R. Bunker (1845-1909) and sewn by seamstress Celestia Milliken (b. ca. 1853), both of Winter Harbor, Maine, in 1908, shows 72 different Masonic symbols. The quilt was originally presented to Hilliard Smallridge (1867-1926) around the time he was elected Senior Steward of his lodge.
Quilts also function as educational tools – teaching other family members about Masonic symbols and reminding the Mason of the lessons he learned in the lodge. And, like the quilts used to fundraise for political causes, Masonic quilts and textiles were – and still are – sometimes used to raise money for Masonic projects and charities. The ladies of Malta Commandery No. 21 made one of the newer quilts in the exhibition to raise funds for the Knights Templar Eye Foundation. The quilt, incorporating the emblems of many Masonic groups, was completed in November 1977 and showed at several events in 1978 before being presented to the Museum in 1979.
Trust In God, ca. 1875. Unidentified Maker. American. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, Gift of the Estate of Charles V. Hagler, 85.20.18. Photo by David Bohl.
Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that teaches a system of ethics through the use of rituals and symbols. The fraternity endeavors to enhance and strengthen the character of individual members by providing opportunities for fellowship, charity, education and leadership. The exact origins of Freemasonry remain unknown. At some point during the 1500s or 1600s in England and Scotland, groups of working, or operative, stonemasons created lodges into which they initiated members from both within and outside the trade. While older guilds of stonemasons focused primarily on regulating the trade and protecting its secrets, these newer groups pursued social and charitable activities. The lodges developed what became known as speculative Freemasonry, which uses metaphors based on the traditions and tools of operative masonry to convey a system of ideas and ethics unconnected to actual building practices.
Freemasonry, although perhaps best known for its perceived secrecy and its men-only membership, in reality has few true secrets. Masons have relied on auxiliary groups of women for centuries to help them fundraise, to provide refreshments and decoration in the lodge, to sew their regalia, and even to assist them with learning their rituals at home. By stitching a quilt or hooking a rug, a woman could support her husband’s Masonic activities, while also learning about it from him and feeling connected not only to her husband, but also to her larger community. Creating these objects may also have offered an opportunity to display her skill to a larger community.
Lasting Light: 125 Years of Grand Canyon Photography
Jack Dykinga, Toroweap Overlook in Morning Light, 1987. Photo courtesy Jack Dykinga.
The 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. A new Smithsonian exhibition allows us to marvel at this natural wonder without camping equipment, emergency rations or rappelling ropes.
Featuring 60 color photographs, “Lasting Light: 125 Years of Grand Canyon Photography” is a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the Grand Canyon Association. The exhibition will be on view at the Museum from October 13, 2012 through January 5, 2013, and will continue on a national tour through the remainder of the year.
John Blaustein, Bighorn Sheep in 140-Mile Canyon, 1972. Photo courtesy John Blausteinl.
“Lasting Light” reveals the dedication of those who have attempted to capture the Grand Canyon on film from the earliest days to modern times. Covering nearly 125 years of photographic history, the exhibition includes images of early photographers dangling from cables to get the perfect shot, their cumbersome camera equipment balanced precariously on their shoulders. More modern images are bold and dramatic, revealing the canyon’s capricious weather, its flora and fauna, waterfalls and wading pools, and awe-inspiring cliffs and rock formations. The stunning contemporary images were selected by representatives from Eastman Kodak’s Professional Photography Division and National Geographic.
Jack Dykinga, Snow Covered Ponderosa Pine, North Rim, 1992. Photo courtesy Jack Dykinga.
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.
“The Grand Canyon taught me a way of seeing. How to see light and design,” said featured photographer John Blaustein. This and other intriguing narratives accompany the spectacular photographs, giving audiences the artists’ personal insight into the power of the Canyon.
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. Exhibition descriptions and tour schedules are available at www.sites.si.edu.
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. www.grandcanyon.org
Collecting At the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library
Mantel Clock, 1800s, France, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library , gift of Mrs. Willis R. Michael, 85.108.10a-b. Photograph by David Bohl.
From a plastic cowboy hat made for Lyndon Johnson’s campaign from president, to Masonic items from the Civil War, to handsome shelf clocks, a new exhibition at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library sheds light on what the Museum collects and why. The Museum actively works to improve and refine its collection of over 17,000 objects through gifts and purchases—adding items to the collection that tell an engaging story about American history. The new exhibition, “Collecting at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library,” features 16 objects new to the collection, and 12 clocks from the Willis Michael Clock Collection. The installation is ongoing.
The Museum’s primary strength is its American Masonic and fraternal items. As one of the largest groups of objects of this kind in the United States, the Museum’s holdings include over 400 fraternal aprons, over 2,500 fraternal badges and pieces of jewelry, and more than 1,000 items of Masonic and fraternal regalia. The symbols on a, 1800s Indiana cupboard, one of the new items on view, 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.
Bowl, 1796-1800, Liverpool, England. Museum purchase through the generosity of Stanley N. Howard Sr., Roland B. Greenley, M.R. Langdell, and the Harvey Leggee Collection of Shrine and Fraternal Material, 2010.052. Photograph by David Bohl.
A new Masonic building was constructed in Madison in 1871 and the cupboard may have been made or purchased around that time.
The Museum also collects material related to American history. The cowboy hat on display reflects Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 campaign image of a born-and-bred Texan. A number of rare Masonic objects dating from the Civil War years are also on view. The pins and chevras worn by soldiers indicated their Masonic membership on the battlefield.
Mantel Clock, 1880–1890, Theodore B. Starr (1837–1907), New York, New York, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, gift of Mrs. Willis R. Michael, 85.108.3a-b. Photograph by David Bohl.
A number of notable acquisitions from the Willis Michael’s Clock Collection are highlighted. The passion and generosity of collectors like Willis and Ruth Michael have enhanced the Museum’s holdings and allowed us to tell a wide range of stories. Starting in the 1970s, Ruth Michaels’ gift of more than 140 clocks, watches, and tools from her husband’s collection formed the core of the Museum’s timepiece holdings. She donated the items in honor of the many friendships Mr. Michael had formed through his life-long participation in Freemasonry. On view are stunning clocks including one featuring Mnemosyne, the Greek goddess of memory and time, and a charming and whimsical timepiece in the shape of an owl.
The Museum’s collection helps inform visitors about American history, especially the wide variety of fraternal groups that have been part of our national story, and demonstrate the role that Masonic and fraternal organizations have played—and continue to play—in American life. Visit the Museum’s website at www.nationalheritagemuseum.org to read blog posts about the collection, and to access a searchable database of selections from the collection. To discuss a donation of objects or archival materials to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, please contact the Museum at 781-861-6559.
Masonic Doorstop, late 1800s, United States or England. Museum Purchase, 2009.072. Photograph by David Bohl.
Masonic Civil War ID Pin, ca. 1861, United States. Gift of Jacques Noel Jacobsen Jr., 2009.021.24. Photograph by David Bohl.
Fight or Buy Bonds, 1917. Howard Chandler Christy (1873-1952). Printed by the Forbes Company, Boston, MA. National Heritage Museum, Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives, gift of H. Brian Holland, A96/089/08. Photo by Joe Ofria.
Sow the Seeds of Victory!, 1918. James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1860), United States. National Heritage Museum, Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives, gift of Andrew S. Dibner. 2000/37/05
Throughout America’s participation in World War I–from April 1917 through November 1918–colorful and compelling posters exhorted Americans to fight, conserve food, and buy bonds. At the beginning of the war, volunteer artists formed the Division of Pictorial Publicity of the Committee on Public Information. The Division created a host of advertisements, including 700 poster designs. Millions of their posters hung in public spaces and workplaces–citizens could not escape their pressing and persuasive messages.
The Museum is featuring a selection of these World War I posters from our collection in the new exhibition, “Fight, Save, Buy, Wake Up!.” The twenty posters gathered in this exhibition in our corridor space offer a glimpse of a time when Americans, facing uncertain outcomes, responded to their government’s urgent requests to help the war effort.
Posters helped recruit soldiers. They also drummed up dollars. To help finance the war, the U. S. Treasury sold savings bonds, called Liberty Loans. An army of volunteers promoted these bonds door-to-door and at rallies. Posters and other advertising for the bonds emphasized the importance of civilian participation in the fundraising effort. Four Liberty Loans and one Victory Loan, organized after the fighting concluded, helped the government raise billions of needed dollars.
Along with money, Americans conserved and produced food to support the war. According to Herbert Hoover, then head of the United States Food Administration, food was “second only to military action,” in winning the war. Hoover crafted policies and organized the logistics that allowed America to feed citizens, soldiers and the Allies by controlling the supply, distribution and conservation of food. To help achieve these aims, food agencies enlisted eye-catching posters urging Americans to conserve, preserve, and produce.
Animals, angels, and imagination–for years, these were the stock-in-trade of local designer George McFadden. Together with his wife, Alyce Kent McFadden, he designed sets for theaters as well as for window displays in Boston-area department stores, most notably Jordan Marsh.
When he retired from that work in the 1970s, McFadden focused his energy on fixing and making clocks, especially colorful, animated cuckoo clocks. The Museum is presenting a selection of these whimsical and charming timepieces in “The Enchanted Clocks of George McFadden.” Known to neighbors and local clock fans as an enthusiastic clock repairer, McFadden created his own distinctive style of cuckoo clocks.
These delightful and eye-catching clocks did more than just tell time; they told stories. McFadden crafted a version of Noah and the Ark, complete with Mrs. Noah fishing off the side and Noah dancing with animals. A comical Haunted house has dancing skeletons and the requsite bats in the belfry. A clock featuring Punch and Judy, and even a cheerful clock with a Doomsday theme will be on exhibit.
The Museum is honoring the long history of inventiveness and craftsmanship in Massachusetts with a unique exhibition featuring objects from the early 18th century to the things we use today.
“Made in Massachusetts” presents items commonly found in the Massachusetts home during the last three centuries, from high-style decorative arts to the most mundane of household objects to the latest in computer technology now found in many homes. Themes include games and toys, with classic board games from Milton Bradley Company and Parker Brothers, along with examples of contemporary toys.
Representing the eclectic range of objects on view are household items, including kitchen tools of yesterday and today, and a sewing maching (ca. 1870) housed in a finely-crafted cabinet made by the Florence Sewing Machine Co. A special display of clocks, featuring wonderful examples from the Museum’s collection of grandfather and shelf clocks, as well as a variety of contemporary timepieces, is a highlight.
Drawing, 1878-1884. Henry Karunach (d. 1888), Hampton, Virginia. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. George D. Payne.
“Curators’ Choice: Favorites from the Collection” is a selection of the staff’s pick of objects from the Museum and Library holdings. Staff members chose the nearly 150 objects on view for different reasons: aesthetic, intellectual, and emotional. Some admired the craftsmanship, while others were attracted to the story about a specific event in American history. Remembrances of family, or items simply thought humorous also guided the staff’s choices.
“The objects we make, buy, give, save or display in our homes speak volumes about who we are as individuals and as members of a larger society,” said Hilary Anderson Stelling, Director of Exhibitions and Audience Development. “They reflect not only our personal preferences, but also our values and beliefs, the time and place in which we acquired them, and the reasons we kept them. We give meaning to objects, whether they are valuable art, souvenirs from a fun vacation, or gifts that remind us of the giver.”
Cover, The Shrine Magazine, February 1927. Charles Buckles Falls (1874-1960), New York, New York. Gift of Dorothy H. Trower, in memory of Ralph E. Trower.
The staff had many objects to choose from. Since its founding in 1975, the Museum has collected many thousands of books, manuscripts, paintings, household items, toys, and pieces of clothing, from early colonial times to the present. Stelling chose a late 19th-century drawing of a Plains Indian artifact by Henry Karunach to include in the exhibition. Karunach was a student at the Hampton Institute, which taught trades, English language and other subjects with the now dubiously regarded goal of “civilizing” young Native Americans. Said Stelling, “We know only a little about Karunach and his experience at the school, but I have long been intrigued by this little painting of a Plains Indian artifact. I wonder if a teacher assigned the subject to Karunach or if he chose to draw this object because he felt homesick.”
Sponsored by the Scottish Rite Masons of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, the Museum is known for its Masonic and fraternal materials, both those used in lodges in rituals and those used by Masons and their families in their homes. Collections Manager Maureen Harper was drawn to a Tall Cedars of Lebanon hat and case because of its peculiarity, as well as remembrances of family and community. “I agree with Christopher Hodapp, author of Freemasons for Dummies, who called the Tall Cedars of Lebanon’s pyramid-shaped hat ‘the oddest of fraternal headgear.’ The triangular, plastic zippered pouch to carry it seems just as odd. Still, it reminds me of men from the 1950s, like my father, who were proud of their community service—which, for the Tall Cedars, meant raising funds for muscular dystrophy research—and of their association with a fraternal group.”
Tall Cedars of Lebanon Hat, 1960-1980. Probably American. Gift of Barry R. Stocker, Past Supreme Tall Cedar, 2001.056.1. Photograph by David Bohl.
Dean Lahikainen, the Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Peabody Essex Museum will present an accompanying lecture, “The Art of Collecting: A Curator’s Personal Journey” on Saturday, October 23 at 2 pm. He will discuss our fascination with historical objects and show us some of his personal favorites. The lecture is free and is made possible by the Lowell Institute.
The Museum hopes that through the exhibition the public will enjoy the objects from the collection, and that it will inspire visitors to think about what heirlooms and other belongings mean to them.
Sowing the Seeds of Liberty: Lexington and the American Revolution
“Sowing the Seeds of Liberty,” is the Museum’s new cornerstone exhibition on Lexington and the American Revolution. This new long-term installation is designed to stimulate new ways of thinking about the battle at Lexington on April 19, 1775, a conflict that has long sparked the American imagination.
The story in the “Seeds of Liberty” is told through the eyes and voices of the people who shaped our nation’s struggle for independence. Much of the exhibition’s focus centers on two main Lexington leaders, John Parker and Jonas Clarke.
Parker, among the many roles he played, was the elected captain of the local militia. He was in charge of the men on the town common when the British regiment arrived from Boston. Legend has it that his last order to his men was “Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.” The other, Jonas Clarke, was minister of the local church. He was a strong and well-respected voice in favor of independence. “Seeds of Liberty,” however, makes clear that the revolution involved more than those that stood on the Green. The entire town was involved. The idea of revolution permeated all facets of life. In the small town of Lexington, everyone was connected, either by family, trade, or church–often by all three. The exhibition’s organization reveals the story in seven sections.
In Lexington ca. 1774, everyone was a farmer. People may have had other jobs, such as blacksmith, cooper or wheelwright, but all were tied to the land. Every man was also citizen-soldier. A compelling image in the introduction underscores that theme as a farmer transforms into a soldier and then back again. Images and artifacts relating to farming — especially dairy farming — are on display in this section.
The Loring Kitchen Visitors are introduced to family life in the 1770s through the Loring family. Visitors meet the Lorings in their kitchen where the family of five women, two men, and a baby worked and gathered. Visitors learn about the tasks the Loring girls undertook such as making cheese and butter, cooking, cleaning and producing wool, all of which contributed to the family economy. Visitors have a chance to see how the Loring’s world connected to the larger world of trade.
Taxes, Trade, and Tension The roots of the revolution are revealed here, and visitors learn how tension mounted in the region over several years. Historic, as well as not-so-famous protests are examined, such as the Boston Tea Party and the lesser-known Lexington Tea Bonfire. A video tells the story as seen through the eyes of Paul Revere of the gathering storm from 1765-1774. Known chiefly for his “midnight ride,” this famous patriot was also a Freemason, a silversmith, and a political cartoonist, and he maintained strong ties to Lexington.
John Parker Wheelwright
In addition to is historic role on Lexington Green, John Parker was a local businessman. Primarily a wheelwright, the talented Captain Parker also crafted furniture, barrels, tools and presses. Through examples of the kinds of tools Parker used, several of which visitors can try themselves, the exhibition brings Parker’s world to life.
Common Cause: The Role of the Meeting House
Lexington residents discussed political matters and also tended to spiritual matters in the meeting house. The Reverend Jonas Clarke occupied a unique position in Lexington as both a spiritual and political leader. As tensions built over a period of years, townspeople initiated military preparations at the meeting house. They stockpiled military supplies in the building, including storing gun powder under the pulpit. Lights and sound are used to transform the meeting house from a place of town business to a house of worship.
Confrontation on the Common Here visitors learn how the events of April 19, 1775 unfolded. The visitor begins the journey with the march of the British regulars from Boston, to Paul Reveres ride, to the skirmish in Lexington, concluding with the British retreat to Boston. (The print shown is by Amos Doolittle titled “The Battle of Lexington, April 19, 1775.” Courtesy of the Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, CT.)
An Enduring Symbol The final area examines the Battle of Lexington as an enduring symbol. The question, “Where are they now?” is answered through epilogues about many of the chief players in the day’s drama. Visitors can also share why April 19, 1775, is important to them.
For the past 15 years, photographer Quang-Tuan Luong has traveled across the United States, treasure hunting. Not for gold or hidden oil reserves, but to capture in photographs the spectacular beauty of our national parks. Luong has single-handedly documented all 58 U.S. national parks, a feat that no other photographer has accomplished. The result of his quest is featured in the exhibition, “Treasured Lands: The Fifty-Eight U.S. National Parks in Focus.”
To get his pictures, Luong kayaked through iceberg-laden waters, canoed down wild rivers, scuba-dived tropical seas, climbed to the summit of Mt. McKinley, and frequently trekked the trailless terrain of the backcountry, all while lugging his 75-pound, large-format camera, photo gear, and camping equipment. He once had to sacrifice his gear to escape a bear attack.
“Treasured Lands” offers the perspective of a world traveler who is deeply committed to preserving America’s beauty and natural resources. By capturing the distinguishing features of each national park, Luong developed an exceptional understanding of what makes a particular place unique. His commitment to highlight these national treasures also serves as a silent, but urgent, call to conservation. Luong grew up in France and trained as a scientist, earning his Ph.D. at the University of Paris. His love for nature and adventure led him to become a mountain climber, wilderness guide, and world traveler. He initially planned to stay in America for only a few years to explore Yosemite. His discovery of the beauty and variety of the U.S. national parks led him to make the United States his new home, and, eventually, to become a full-time photographer. He is now living in San Jose, California, with his wife and two children.
Unidentified Masonic Lodge Master, 1865. H. Cushing, Windsor, Vermont. Gift in memory of Jacques Noel Jacobsen, 2008.038.35.
Over the past fifty years or more, popular television programs and movies have frequently poked fun at fraternal groups by having characters belong to made-up organizations with goofy names and wild hats and costumes. Members and non-members alike have often perceived Masonic costume as weird, funny or outlandish.
Indeed, Masonic regalia seems to have a flair for the unusual. But today, we may think the same of the clothing we see in historic prints, paintings and photographs from the 1700s and 1800s. So when we start to look more closely — to compare the Masonic costumes and photographs with garments and images from the same time periods — we can see that perhaps they were not as outlandish as they may now seem to us. Often, regalia manufacturers took their cues from contemporary fashion houses.
This new exhibition, opening on June 4, uses clothing and images from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection to trace the inspiration behind Masonic regalia and costume. Each section explores a different source — contemporary fashion, the military, Orientalism, and theater — in order to show the connections between everyday style and fraternal fashion.
Shrine Jacket, 1920–1960. Probably American. Gift of Grant B. Romer, 88.42.151. Photograph by David Bohl.
Initially a way for affluent men to meet, socialize and share their views, American Freemasonry has continually adapted its aims and activities to suit the needs of its members. During the mid- and late 1700s, the clothing men wore in the lodge mirrored the principles of equality and brotherhood that guided all Masonic lessons. Yet, Freemasons still set themselves apart by what they wore and the materials used. Their regalia demonstrated a familiarity with genteel style, reflecting the fraternity’s upper-class roots.
By the late 1800s, menswear had become extremely standardized, offering little room for fancy and display. Regardless of their profession or geographical location, men became somewhat indistinguishable from one another. Similarly, as many Freemasons sought to impose national standards on the fraternity’s rituals, Masonic regalia also began to standardize. Large regalia houses began offering mechanically manufactured aprons and sashes. Still, fanciful Masonic costume provided men with a way to dress expressively, particularly during degree rituals and public processions.
Over the course of the fraternity’s existence, Freemasons developed and retained their regalia to suit both the organization’s needs and prevailing fashion styles. The traditional garments became part of their identity, reflecting the organization’s values and ideals, as well as a man’s membership in a centuries-old, well-respected group.
Masonic Royal Arch Degree Team, 1890–1900. Baxter Springs, Kansas. Special Acquisitions Fund, 88.42.112.
Unidentified Knights Templar Member, 1893. Abraham Edmonds (b. ca. 1851), New York, New York. Gift of Walter A. Kmiec, 80.58. Photograph by David Bohl.
American Family Treasures: Decorative Arts from the D.J. and Alice Shumway Nadeau Collection
“American Family Treasures: Decorative Arts from the D.J. and Alice Shumway Nadeau Collection” transports the visitor to the first centuries of our nation’s history. More than 70 objects are on view, including exquisitely crafted furniture, metal work, glass, and more—all made in the towns and villages of New England. The exhibition also marks the first time a significant portion of the Nadeau collection has been presented to the public. This wonderful collection was recently donated to the National Heritage Museum, in memory of D.J. and Alice Shumway Nadeau.
The Nadeau collection was not designed for show. The furniture bears the scuffs and marks of common usage, and is untouched by a restorer’s hand. Just like its makers and original owners, more recent owners also thought of this furniture as functional tools for everyday living, not as icons of art. This is not to say they did not appreciate its aesthetic appeal, but the furniture was used by adults and children and subjected to the stresses and strains of everyday life. Not only do the objects fit well in the Nadeau home, but each piece also has its own family associations and stories. On view are 18th- and 19th-century tables, chairs, and chests, a metal chandelier, as well as looking glasses and lighting devices, all offering a glimpse of times past. A traditional 19th-century copper weathervane, needlework, and objects produced by New England glass companies will also be presented.
Night Road: Photographs of Diners by John D. Woolf
Boulevard Diner, 2009, Worcester, MA. Courtesy of John D. Woolf
Drawn to diners and other twentieth-century roadside architecture, photographer John Woolf embarked on a project of capturing images of these buildings—especially those in the Northeast industrial corridor from New Jersey to Maine. Twenty of these compelling photographs can be seen in the exhibition “Night Road.”
Most of these structures combine signage—both lettered and neon—designed to attract the attention of nocturnal travelers. As Woolf describes, “At night, with a mixture of the road’s various artificial light sources, interior lights shining through highly visible windows, and eye-catching, garish neon signs, these buildings and their surroundings suggest a film-noir movie set photographed in Technicolor.”
Miss Worcester Diner, 2009, Worcester, MA. Courtesy of John D. Woolf.
Using a digital camera and making multiple exposures for each light source and then combining them together in software, Woolf has tried to recreate the lurid color and dramatic lighting of these roadside structures. Digital photography enables this process, which would not be possible with a traditional film camera.
The popular architectural treasures highlighted in the photos date from an era when commercial buildings were more playful and symbolic than they are today. In the mid-1900s, builders constructed even common structures with a high level of craftsmanship and imagination. Some of these relics remain, and Woolf has captured them before they fade away.
Rosebud Diner, 2009, Somerville, MA. Courtesy of John D. Woolf.
The city plan of Washington, D.C.—with its radiating avenues and circles overlaying a grid pattern of right angled streets—presents daily challenges to visitors and residents alike as they navigate between the monuments and buildings that symbolize our national capital. But the circles, squares, angles, and architecture in the Federal city hold a far deeper symbolism for the Freemasons from the time of George Washington to the present day. “The Initiated Eye: Secrets, Symbols, Freemasonry and the Architecture of Washington, D.C.,” on view at the National Heritage Museum from December 19, 2009 through February 26, 2011, is a fascinating exhibition that explores the Masonic ideals and symbols made manifest in our nation’s capital city.
“The Initiated Eye” presents 21 extraordinary oil paintings by artist Peter Waddell based on the architecture of Washington, D.C., and the role that our founding fathers and prominent citizens—many of whom were Freemasons—played in establishing the layout, design and construction of the city. Through the paintings on view, the exhibition portrays an unprecedented view into the world of Freemasonry, and through historical events, activities, ceremonies, and special gatherings carefully explains and demystifies Freemasonry for the public. The paintings often depict objects associated with Freemasonry that were carefully selected from local lodges to provide a context and richness to illustrate the many historical collections related to our nation’s heritage held in trust by the Freemasons. Waddell created the paintings through extensive research, and in collaboration with a Masonic advisory committee. Fans of the recent Dan Brown book, The Lost Symbol, will recognize in the paintings a number of the places and events depicted in the novel, including the House of the Temple, the cornerstone laying at the Capitol, the Smithsonian Institution, the Shrine Temple, the Franklin School, and the Washington Monument. Approximately 40 Masonic artifacts from the National Heritage Museum collection further enrich the exhibition.
Congress designated the location of the new nation’s capital in 1791. Soon after, Major Pierre L’Enfant (1754-1825) designed the layout of the ten-mile-square district in consultation with George Washington (1732-1799) and Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826). He used geometry as a central principle in planning Washington, D.C., employing radial boulevards that link major monuments and public buildings, while also manifesting the principles of Enlightenment—and perhaps Masonic—thinking.
Freemasonry, a fraternal organization for men, teaches a system of ethics using symbols, rituals and ideas drawn from stonemasons’ regulations, Enlightenment philosophy and Judeo-Christian teachings. The fraternity flourished as Washington, D.C., began to expand. During the late 1700s, three lodges labored within the Federal District; by 1811 these three lodges, along with two new ones, organized the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia.
Over the next two centuries, the city and the fraternity grew together. Eighteenth-century philosophers established a new idealism based upon the dignity and rights of the common man, which influenced Freemasonry and the values of the new nation. The 1800s brought expansion, growth and new levels of prosperity that nurtured the spread of the ideas underpinning both the city and the Craft. The 1900s saw maturation and reinterpretation of the vision that had given shape and purpose to Washington, D.C., and its Freemasons. Now, having touched four centuries of history and development in our nation’s capital, Freemasonry has made an indelible impact.
The paintings in “The Initiated Eye” are the work of Peter Waddell, and were commissioned by, and are the property of, the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington, D.C., with all rights reserved. This exhibition is supported by the Scottish Rite Masons of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A.
Crest Theatre, 1996. Sacramento, California. Photo by Stefanie Klavens
During Hollywood’s golden age, from the 1920s through 1940s, nearly every American city and town had its own movie palace. Whether an extravagant, neon-clad jewel or a more modest structure, the neighborhood theater was a center of community life. Exhibiting a wide range of flamboyant architectural styles, America’s historic theaters have entertained millions, first as vaudeville houses and later as movie theaters.
During the Depression, these lavish theaters offered moviegoers an escape from hard times into a world of illusion. But as the post-World War II boom fed migration to the suburbs, many downtown palaces closed. Multiplexes later presented stiff competition for single-screen theaters by offering a choice of films at one convenient location. Some architectural treasures have been saved, finding new life as performing arts centers, but most are lost forever. In fact, in 2001, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the historic theater atop its Most Endangered Historic Places list.
Boston photographer Stefanie Klavens’ interest in 20th-century popular culture inspired her to begin shooting these images of grand picture houses over a decade ago. Regularly attending the Senator Theatre while growing up in Baltimore, Klavens always felt there was something special about the theater. Only years later, however, did she fully appreciate its 1930s Art Deco design. Not surprisingly, it was among the first venues she photographed.
Her continuing photographic journey has taken her all over the country, photographing ornate city palaces and intimate small-town movie houses. As more of these historic buildings close, Klavens documents this vanishing era in American culture.
About the Project: Klavens works in the traditional method, shooting on film, using only available light and long exposures for her interior views, and printing the photographs herself. All prints are loaned by the photographer.
The Museum is pleased to announce that we will host “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World” from April 3, 2010 through June 27, 2010. The exhibition features 100 original artworks, including drawings, cartoons and storyboards that illustrate Henson’s talent as a storyteller and visionary. Among the variety of exhibition objects are puppets and television and movie props, photographs of Henson and his collaborators at work and original video productions, including excerpts from Henson’s early career and experimental films.
Visitors will get to know Jim Henson through his doodles and drawings, his puppets and his fantastic performances. Seeing his original work firsthand opens a window into his visual thinking and provides both an appreciation of Henson as an artist and a reason to laugh out loud.
From the very beginning, Henson expressed his ideas with incredible bursts of invention, through a variety of visual forms, clever dialogue, songs, comic bits and animation. All of his work reveals a highly sophisticated and nuanced thought process, evident in the decades-long metamorphosis of a small group of captivating characters from simple doodles to cartoons to puppets to films. What began as a one-man enterprise eventually grew into an international phenomenon. As time passed, the simple hand puppets Henson created for his first television show, “Sam and Friends,” evolved into increasingly more sophisticated characters—from the Muppets of “The Muppet Show,” “Sesame Street” and “Fraggle Rock” fame to the larger-than-life fantasy creatures of “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth.”
Click here for more information about the exhibition and about Jim Henson’s life and work.
Click here for the audio tour podcast for “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World.” You can also download it to your own player to use when you visit the museum.
“Jim Henson’s Fantastic World” is organized by The Jim Henson Legacy and SITES, in cooperation with the Henson Family; The Jim Henson Company; The Muppets Studio, LLC; and Sesame Workshop. The exhibition is made possible by The Biography Channel. Additional support has been provided by The Jane Henson Foundation and Cheryl Henson.
The Biography Channel is a 24-hour digital cable network dedicated to presenting compelling stories about the world’s most interesting people. One of the most sought after and fastest growing channels available today, The Biography Channel presents vibrant profiles of intriguing individuals, plus exciting new original series, short features and documentaries. For more information, visit www.biography.com.
Established in 1993, The Jim Henson Legacy was created by family and friends in response to the extraordinary interest in the life and work of Jim Henson. The organization is dedicated to preserving and perpetuating Henson’s contributions to the worlds of puppetry, television, motion pictures, special effects and media technology. By making Henson’s creative body of work available to the public through presentations and exhibits, the Legacy will share the power of Henson’s art and imagination and his positive view of life with generations to come.
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For more information, including exhibition descriptions and tour schedules, visit www.sites.si.edu.
Grand Orient Freemasonry Unmasked As the Secret Power Behind Communism. London: Britons Publishing Society, 1956.
Founded and supported by the 32º Scottish Rite Freemasons in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States, theNational Heritage Museum and its Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives boast a rich collection of archives, books and objects related to Freemasonry and other fraternal groups. Along with the day-to-day records of Freemasonry, the Library and Archives collects anti-Masonic material. In spite of its colorful and even outlandish message, this material has an important story to tell. This fascinating story is explored in “Freemasonry Unmasked!: Anti-Masonic Collections in the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives,” opening October 3, 2009.
Suspicion of Freemasonry is nearly as old as the fraternity itself. Since the early 1700s, groups have accused Freemasons of everything from plotting world revolution in their lodge rooms to worshiping Satan in their initiation ceremonies. Equating Masonic secrecy with darkness, sin, immorality, intemperance, treason, and the devil, anti-Masons have maligned the fraternity with both misconceptions and deliberate misstatements. For hundreds of years, Freemasons have promoted fellowship, charity and education among its members. Despite this positive mission, they have also needed to battle these mistaken beliefs about the organization.
By looking at anti-Masonry in a historical context, we can see that objections to Freemasonry have often accompanied changes in society, such as religious revivals in America to totalitarian regimes in Europe. In addition to helping us understand the history of Freemasonry in America, the anti-Masonic movements and ideas shed light on the social, political and religious history of the United States.
Over time, anti-Masonic propaganda has taken many forms. Exposés of Masonic ritual have been printed since the early 1700s. In the 1820s and 1830s, following the kidnapping and presumed murder of a former Mason who threatened to publish an exposure of Masonic ritual, Americans began producing anti-Masonic newspapers, almanacs, broadsides and other pieces. During this same period, a political party that promoted anti-Masonic candidates formed.
Throughout the 1800s and 1900s, many religious groups and individuals—both mainstream and fringe—opposed Freemasonry as being anti-Christian or downright evil. Nazi Germany sought to suppress Freemasonry during World War II. Most recently, groups or individuals who oppose Freemasonry have often simply reprinted or recycled the ideas found in anti-Masonic material produced 100 years earlier.
Displayed in the exhibition are many examples of anti-Masonic literature from the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives collection. Most contain misinformation at best or outlandish claims about Freemasonry at worst. We invite you to explore the resources in the library and archives to learn more about Freemasonry and its history to form your own opinion.
For All Time: Clocks and Watches from the National Heritage Museum
Father Time Shelf Clock, ca. 1890. E.N. Welch Manufacturing Company, Bristol, Connecticut. Gift of Mrs. Willis R. Michael
From waking to the rooster’s crow to catching the 8 am train, how Americans tell and value time has changed over the centuries. “For All Time: Clocks and Watches from the National Heritage Museum” is a new exhibition, opening August 15, 2009, that explores the story of timekeeping through spectacular objects drawn from the Museum’s own collection. The Museum is pleased to present a focused look at this part of our holdings—a topic that has long been popular with visitors. Each of the 95 clocks in the exhibition—ranging in dates from the 1650s to the 1950s—is a complicated machine with its own story to tell about who used, made or marketed it and, most interesting, how it fit into Americans’ relationship with time. Twenty-two watches are also presented. The exhibition is on view through February 21, 2010.
“For All Time” examines the notion of time in Colonial days, when people relied on nature—the sun, moon, tides and seasons—to gauge the passing hours. Bells, public sundials, and town clocks helped people plan their business or social engagements. The exhibition also traces the history of how timepieces evolved from prizes owned by status-conscious families—as illustrated by the lovely tall case clock made by noted Boston clockmaker Benjamin Willard—to affordable objects, ubiquitous to every home.
Pocket Watch, ca. 1930 Schwab-Loeillet Geneva, Switzerland. Gift of Robert O. Ralston
The clockmaking revolution spurred by Connecticut inventor Eli Terry in the early 1800s is explored, revealing how moderately-priced wooden works made affordable time pieces available to many Americans. American watch making took off mid-century when Aaron Dennison opened his factory in Waltham, Massachusetts, and proved that the United States could “compete with the cheap labors of the old countries.” By 1900, many watch-making companies had made literally millions of watches. Pocket watch production and ownership reached its peak in the decades between 1880 and 1920.
In the mid-1800s, spurred by increasing need, capacity and competition, clock manufacturers began offering a greater variety of timepieces for purchase. Different makers hoped their products would stand out in the crowd, as most assuredly two timepieces on view did—the owl-shaped clock sold by Theodore Starr and the handsome Father Time clock manufactured by E. N. Welch. Designers also created clocks to complement particular home decoration schemes. By the 1900s, many Americans owned several clocks, selected for their size, function or style, and displayed them throughout their homes.
The Plato Clock, 1904-1906. Eugene L. Fitch, designer. Ansonia Clock Co., manufacturer, Brooklyn, New York. Gift of Mrs. Willis R. Michael
Many of the clocks in “For All Time” came to the Museum from the collection of Ruth and Willis R. Michael of York, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Michaels’ gift of over 140 objects from her husband’s collection forms the core of the Museum’s timepiece holdings. An exuberant ironwork tall clock and a 19th-century French clock, which features a female figure whose graceful arms point to the time, are a few of the many pieces from the collection on view.
Mr. Michael was a tool and die maker and entrepreneur who purchased his first clock in the late 1930s—a tall case clock crafted in the late 1700s by George Hoff of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In Mr. Michael’s own words, that’s when he “got the bug.” His collection soon grew to include hundreds of items.
A few years after Mr. Michael died, Mrs. Michael began making a series of gifts from her husband’s collection to Museum, newly founded by the Scottish Rite Masons of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. She likely did so in honor of her husband’s lifelong involvement in Masonry. The Museum’s collection is richer for the Michaels’ enthusiasm and generosity.
Clock, 1800s France. Gift of Mrs. Willis R. Michael
The Way We Worked: Photographs from the National Arhives
“Bib Mill No. 1, Macon, Ga.,” 1909. Lewis Hine. Courtesy National Archives
Work and the workplace went through enormous changes between the mid-19th century, when 60 percent of Americans made their living as farmers, and the late 20th century. “The Way We Worked,” a new traveling exhibition opening in June, features 86 photographs from the National Archives focusing on the history of work in America and documenting work clothing, locales, conditions, and conflicts. The exhibition is part of a 14-city national tour.
“The Way We Worked” is drawn from the National Archives, home to thousands of photographs of work and workplaces taken by government agencies for many reasons: to investigate factory safety, to track construction progress and office training or to emphasize the continuing importance of humans in a technologically modern environment. The images featured in the exhibition, though possibly taken merely for purposes of recordkeeping, often reveal much more about how social forces such as immigration, gender, ethnicity, class, and technology have transformed the workforce.
The exhibition is divided into five sections:
“Where We Worked” explores the places Americans worked, from farms to factories, mines to restaurants, as well as how race and gender often determined roles and status.
“How We Worked” examines the effects of technology and automation on the workplace with images of people on assembly lines or using their tools of trade.
“What We Wore to Work” looks at the way uniforms serve as badges of authority and status, and help make occupations immediately identifiable.
“Conflict at Work” looks back at not just the inevitable clashes between workers and managers over working conditions, wages, and hours, but also how social conflicts, such as segregation, have influenced the workplace.
“Dangerous or Unhealthy Work” features many of the photographs taken by social reformers hoping to ban child labor, reduce the length of the work day and expose unsanitary workplaces.
Spanning the years 1857-1987, the images in the exhibition cover the entire range of photographs on the topic in the National Archives holdings. The exhibition will also present a video showing a variety of workplaces.
The National Archives and Records Administration serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our government, ensuring that the people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. Among the billions of records at the National Archives are more than 11 million still pictures in theWashington, D.C., area alone. In addition, there are millions of photographs in the National Archives Presidential Libraries and thousands more among the records held by regional records facilities.
“The Way We Worked” was created by the National Archives with the support of the Foundation for the National Archives, and is organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Feeney reviewed the Museum’s new exhibition “The Way We Worked” in The Boston Globe.
The Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts: Celebrating 275 Years of Brotherhood
Masonic Punch Bowl, 1810-1840. China Courtesy of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts
On July 30, 1733, Henry Price, the Provincial Grand Master of North America, constituted the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in Boston. Celebrating its 275th anniversary this year, the Grand Lodge is the oldest Masonic jurisdiction in the western hemisphere. As part of the festivities, the Museum will open “The Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts: Celebrating 275 Years of Brotherhood.” This exhibition will trace the history of the state’s Masonic governing body, which grants charters, undertakes charitable activities, and standardizes Masonic rituals and customs throughout its jurisdiction.
“The Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts: Celebrating 275 Years of Brotherhood” presents the story of the Grand Lodge from 1733 to the present day. Firmly tied to the state’s unique history, the Grand Lodge has counted hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts men among its members, from Revolutionary War heroes Paul Revere and Joseph Warren to sports commentator Curt Gowdy and former pro football player Russ Francis.
In the 1700s, Massachusetts’s Grand Lodge led the way in spreading the light of Freemasonry in the New World. With authority from the Grand Lodge of England, it chartered lodges in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Antigua, Nova Scotia, and New Hampshire within its first ten years. The maritime industries of Massachusetts also helped the Grand Lodge extend its influence internationally during the 1800s and the 1900s. As merchant, fishing and whaling ships spread across the oceans, it was petitioned to charter new lodges: in 1853, it granted dispensation for one in Chile; in 1863, in China; and in 1912, Panama.
Back home in Boston, the current Masonic Temple stands at the corner of Tremont and Boylston Streets. The Grand Lodge first purchased the land at this spot in the late 1850s. Unfortunately, two devastating fires–in 1864 and in 1895–forced the Grand Lodge to rebuild. Despite losing some of their furnishings and belongings, the Grand Lodge Library (opened in 1850) and Museum (established in 1887) continued to collect books, documents and objects to tell the story of Freemasonry in Massachusetts and to preserve its treasures for future generations. Today, the Museum collection has grown to over 12,000 objects and documents, while the Library contains 70,000 volumes. The new exhibition at the National Heritage Museum draws on this fascinating collection and includes more than 150 objects, photographs and documents related to Masonic history in Massachusetts. Please join us and travel through time to meet fascinating people, enjoy festive celebrations and learn about the symbols and traditions of Massachusetts Freemasonry.
A Penny for Your Thoughts: Postcards from the Golden Age, 1898-1918
In the early 1900s, when telephones and cameras were few and automobiles were limited to the well-to-do, the postcard filled a necessary and appreciated role. Costing only a penny each to send, postcards were an inexpensive way to convey short messages. Images on the cards showed American pursuits and pastimes, customs, costumes, morals, and manners. Sold everywhere—in drug stores, souvenir shops, dime stores, specialty shops and even on street corners—many postcards from this age still exist today.
In “Penny for Your Thoughts,” on view in the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives, more than 100 examples from the Golden Age will be shown, along with postcard scrapbooks. The images capture the optimism, the people, the industrialism, and the transportation of the period from 1898-1918. Visitors will see favorite tourist destinations, cityscapes, and period automobiles. They will also be able read the messages on these antique postcards. A variety of styles and subject matter will be shown, including color lithographic, photographic, novelty, and fraternal postcards.
The exhibition is drawn from gifts from Martin A. and Mildred H. Gilman and various museum purchases. Bertha Petersen, Martin A. Gilman’s mother, collected many of the postcards when she lived in New Jersey and Connecticut from 1904-1917.
Keepers of Tradition: Art and Folk Heritage in Massachusetts
Bank of America Lead Underwriter of Exhibition Highlighting Massachusetts Cultural Traditions
Large vejigante mascara, 2007. Angel Sánchez Ortiz, Holyoke, Massachusetts. Courtesy of National Heritage Museum and Massachusetts Cultural Council. Photography by Jason Dowdle
The National Heritage Museum and the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) proudly announce “Keepers of Tradition: Art and Folk Heritage in Massachusetts,” a major new exhibition opening May 18, 2008 in Lexington. The exhibition will feature over 100 works by 70 Massachusetts artists who preserve and revitalize deeply rooted traditions. Reflecting the populace of Massachusetts, their art takes many expressive forms, from Native American basketry to Yankee wooden boats, Armenian lace, Chinese seals, Puerto Rican santos, and Irish music and dance. Passed down from person to person within both long-settled and new immigrant communities, traditional art involves the shaping of deeply held cultural values into meaningful artistic forms.
These keepers of tradition are recognized in their communities as outstanding practitioners of craft, music, dance, and sacred arts. Yet much of this work is hidden to the public at large, remaining essentially unknown beyond the local community in which it flourishes.
“Keepers of Tradition” draws upon eight years of field research by MCC folklorists. “This documentary fieldwork has taken us into the homes, kitchens, workshops, dance halls, places of worship, parade routes, and other gathering places where traditional art is produced, used, valued, and displayed,” says curator Maggie Holtzberg.
“Providing access to the arts, particularly to underserved populations, is a high priority both locally and nationally for Bank of America,” said Robert E. Gallery, president, Bank of America Massachusetts. “Bank of America traces its own lineage back to the opening of the Massachusetts Bank in 1784. With that in mind, we appreciate the importance of preserving and celebrating the Commonwealth’s heritage.”
The exhibition and accompanying catalogue celebrate the work of a wide array of living artists. It also tells their stories. Visitors will meet Anahid Kazazian, an embroiderer in the Marash tradition, who first learned her skill as a young girl in Syria because, “A trade is like a gold bracelet on your arm, because when you are in need, you can sell it.” Visitors will also be introduced to legendary rhythm tap dancer Jimmy Slyde, who in speaking about tap dance and hip-hop, identifies a central truth of all the featured traditions in the exhibition: “Everything has roots. Ain’t nothing new, babe.”
“Keepers of Tradition” showcases mastery and passion in diverse media, from the uniformity and handiness of a Nantucket Lightship basket, to the Native quill work on a tobacco pouch, to the vibrant colors and textures of a Caribbean Carnival costume. Drawing on interviews with practitioners, masters and apprentices, the exhibition explores the deeply personal and cultural context for each piece of work. Through the objects, catalogue, and audio tour, visitors will learn how some of these traditional artists developed their skills, what fuels their passion, and how they have practiced and shared their work over the years.
Funding for “Keepers of Tradition: Art and Folk Heritage in Massachusetts” is provided by Bank of America, an anonymous local foundation, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the National Heritage Museum, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
An ambitious series of performing arts programs will also be presented in conjunction with the exhibition. A schedule will be available atwww.nationalheritagemuseum.org in advance of the opening.
A new website, featuring images, sounds, an audio guide and interactive opportunities to complement the experience of the exhibition, will launch in conjunction with the opening of the exhibition at www.massfolkarts.org.
“Keepers of Tradition” is organized by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, Massachusetts. Maggie Holtzberg, manager of the Folk Arts & Heritage Program at the Massachusetts Cultural Council, curated the exhibition and authored the accompanying book. The 200-page volume, published in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Press, features 160 color and 10 black-and-white illustrations. It will be available in the Museum’s Heritage Shop for $24.95 in mid-May, as well as on the University of Massachusetts Press websitehttp://www.umass.edu/umpress/.
The Massachusetts Cultural Council is a state agency that promotes excellence, access, education and diversity in the arts, humanities and interpretive sciences, in order to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and contribute to the economic vitality of our communities.
The National Heritage Museum is dedicated to presenting exhibitions and programs on a wide variety of topics in American history and popular culture. The Museum is supported by the Scottish Rite Freemasons in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States. The National Heritage Museum is located at 33 Marrett Road in Lexington, at the corner of Route 2A and Massachusetts Avenue. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 am-4:30 pm, and Sunday, noon-4:30 pm. Admission and parking are free. Heritage Shop and Courtyard Café on site. For further information, contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559 or visit the web site at www.nationalheritagemuseum.org.
Bank of America and the Arts
Bank of America is a leading supporter of arts and culture in the United States. Through a wide variety of programs, Bank of America works to strengthen artistic institutions and provide greater access to treasured works of art for both its customers and those who might not otherwise experience them. Each year the company provides millions of dollars in grants to a wide range of arts organizations, supporting education and access programs and enabling institutions to expand their scope, and underwrites national and local performances, arts programs, and exhibitions. Through its unique loaned exhibition program, the bank offers its art collection to museums throughout the country, free of charge, so they may expand their offerings for the benefit of their communities.
Augustus Frederick Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits
Ruthenian woman, Augustus Frederick Sherman (1865-1925) Courtesy of Aperture Foundation and Statue of Liberty National Monument/Ellis Island Immigration Museum
Ellis Island, our nation’s foremost immigration station, processed an average of 5,000 immigrants per day during the peak years from 1905-1907. Augustus Frederick Sherman entered public service as a clerk with the Immigration Division at Ellis Island in 1892, the year that the “Golden Door” was established. An accomplished amateur photographer, Sherman’s position enabled him to take an astonishing body of portraits of over 200 families, groups, and individuals while they were being detained either for medical reasons or for further interrogation. “Augustus Frederick Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits, 1905-1920” brings together for the first time a collection of these striking photographs, presenting an unprecedented historical document. The exhibition is on view at the National Heritage Museum, 33 Marrett Road, Lexington, MA, October 11, 2008 through April 26, 2009. Admission is free.
Described by leading photo-historians as “one of the most substantial photographic records of that period of mass immigration,” Sherman’s photographs shown in this exhibition present an extraordinary picture of the incoming stream of immigrants who came through Ellis Island at the turn of the last century. As 20% of the immigrants were detained, some of Sherman’s subjects were ultimately deported. His portraits reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of people known as the “New Immigrants” that fled peasant societies, natural disasters, poverty, and political and religious persecution to partake in the great American Experiment. Sherman’s subjects, who are frequently dressed in elaborate national costumes or folk dresses, range from Romanian shepherds to Russian vegetarians and deported anarchists, from circus performers and German stowaways to Greek-Orthodox priests and women from Guadeloupe. Each subject is treated with equal gravitas.
Over 280 of Sherman’s photographs have spent many years in the collections of Ellis Island and the New York Public Library, rarely shown. Through the exhibition and accompanying book, this extraordinary artist’s lifework will finally achieve the worldwide recognition it deserves.
Augustus Frederick Sherman was chief clerk at Ellis Island from 1906 to 1921, when he was promoted to private secretary to the Commissioner, a position he held until 1925. Little is known about the rest of his life. Entirely self-taught as a photographer, Sherman had an abiding passion for human drama, a keen eye for non-Western postures, gestures, and dress, and the ability to pose his sitters without losing sight of their inner natures and difficult circumstances.
This project received generous support from Furthermore: A program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.
The accompanying book, Augustus Frederick Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits, 1905-1920. The 160-page volume includes 115 duotone images
Visualizing Brotherhood: Masonic and Fraternal Prints
Washington as a Freemason, 1870. Strobridge and Company, Cincinnati, OH. Special Acquisitions Fund, 78.74.18. Photo by David Bohl.
Drawn from the National Heritage Museum’s collection of over 800 Masonic and fraternal prints, this exhibition of approximately twenty engravings and lithographs provides an introduction to fraternalism in America. Like the fraternal groups they represent, these prints use symbols to teach moral lessons. With these items, members proclaimed their affiliations, decorated homes and lodges, and celebrated prominent members.
The Masonic fraternity grew up with the nation, both influencing and being influenced by American aesthetics and values. Freemasonry also served as the inspiration for countless other fraternal groups that formed during the 1800s. Viewing these works side-by-side offers insight into the ideals that they cherished and promotes understanding of the role that Masonic and fraternal organizations—with six million members by 1900—played in American life.
There'll Be a Hot Ime in the U.S.A.: Illustrated American Sheet Music, 1917-1924
A new exhibition in the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives takes a look at popular American music in the early twentieth century through illustrated sheet music covers from its collection. In addition, an audio component to the show allows visitors to hear some of the songs as they sounded when they were first recorded.
Before recorded music was widely available, people made their own in living rooms and parlors. Sheet music publishing was big business. People who enjoyed a public performance could purchase the sheets to bring a song home to their own piano. As consumers shopped for the latest tunes, eye-catching covers grabbed their attention. The prolific illustrators who designed the color covers were not celebrated artists, but many did sign their work for all to see. Among them are Albert W. Barbelle, Frederick S. Manning, and William and Fredrick Starmer.
As with many other types of popular culture, sheet music reflects the dynamic society that created it. The music sheets seen here were all published between 1917 and 1924, from the U.S. entry into World War I until five years after the official end of the war. Through these covers, we can see changing ideas of the time, from cultural perceptions of gender roles, feelings about war, and attitudes toward Prohibition to the enduring popularity of love songs and dance tunes. In addition, we see the vaudeville celebrities who introduced the songs—some whose faces are still familiar and some now forgotten?that publishers used to sell sheet music.
This selection is drawn from a gift that the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives received in 2004. The donors’ mother, Frances Schmidt Pemberton, collected them as a young woman working at a vaudeville theater in Rochester, New York, from about 1918 until 1925 and all of the sheet music that will be on display were the gift of Estelle F. Gese, Gale S. Pemberton, and Anne D. Pemberton, in memory of Frances Schmidt Pemberton.
What Did These Songs Sound Like?
MP3 players will be available to borrow at the reference desk in the library. Each mp3 player is preloaded with recordings of some of the songs featured in this exhibition. While looking at the sheet music, you’ll be able to hear what the song sounded like when the sheet music was published.
Remember Me: Highlights from the National Heritage Museum
In 1972 Commander George A. Newbury, the motivating force behind the National Heritage Museum’s founding, created the institution”… to tell a thrilling story—the story of America.” Since then the Museum has been collecting objects, documents, and books associated with American and Masonic history with Newbury’s goal in mind.
Every week, the Library and Museum receive offers of material to add to the collection. When staff members are deciding whether to accept a donation or make a purchase for the collection, we find materials that help us tell a story particularly compelling. We want to be able to connect that collection object to a person, event, or time in history and thereby offer visitors a rich and intriguing glimpse of the past.
A new exhibition, “Remember Me: Highlights from the National Heritage Museum,” explores some of the stories found in the Museum and Library collections. The exhibition features a wide variety of materials—from household objects and photographs to lodge furnishings. Every object, be it an artfully engraved medal or a scuffed doll’s trunk, offers a connection to a person, time, or event.
Some of the objects on view are personal creations, such as the diary of a Maine schoolgirl and a quilt made by an Indiana homemaker. Others are everyday objects like a worn lunch box or a well-loved toy that recall the tasks and pleasures of day-to-day life decades ago. Families have also carefully preserved their memories of milestones such as weddings by saving dresses, photographs and scrapbooks. Over the years, these objects have helped one generation share its history with the next. Now these objects can also show us how the celebration of special events has changed over time.
The Museum is privileged to hold material related to people who participated in events that shaped the course of wars or politics. These objects include a powder horn carved by a prisoner in a Texas prison camp during the Civil War. Over the centuries, Americans have also reflected on their own history. Objects in the exhibition tell how they imagined the arrival of the Pilgrims in the 1600s and marked the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
At the National Heritage Museum, we pay special attention to materials related to the history of Freemasonry and other fraternal organizations in the United States. Over the years, Masons have created objects to help fellow members remember the lessons and symbols they have learned in lodge. “Remember Me” showcases some of the unique material related to Freemasonry, including a tracing board from the 1800s and a sundial decorated with reminders of the Masonic values of brotherhood and benevolence.
Regardless of their age, the way they were used, or where they were made, all of the objects in “Remember Me” offer a window into past lives. The stories these objects tell can help us understand what events and values we as a people have cherished, marked and strived to remember throughout American history.
To Fly to the Aid of Humanity: Benjamin Franklin and the Lodge of Nine Sisters
Medallion, 1777. Jean Baptiste Nini (1717-1786), France. National Heritage Museum.
A new exhibition in the Van Gorden-Williams Library focuses on Benjamin Franklin’s involvement with a French Masonic lodge during the American Revolution.
Inventor, writer, printer, and diplomat, Benjamin Franklin was also a Freemason. When sent by Congress to France to drum up financial and material support for the American Revolution in 1776, he sought the social circles that would help him fulfill his mission. One of the most interesting was a Parisian Masonic lodge, the Lodge of Nine Sisters (La Loge des Neuf Soeurs). Franklin was not just a member of this Lodge, but also became its leader, serving as its Venerable Master from 1779 to 1781.
The nine sisters in the Lodge’s name refer to the nine muses of the arts and sciences from Greek mythology. In the late 1700s, this lodge boasted an elite and international membership, including such important thinkers, artists, scientists, and statesmen as Americans Benjamin Franklin and John Paul Jones, writer-philosopher Voltaire, astronomer Joseph-Jerome de Lalande, and sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. New members pledged to always be ready “to fly to the aid of humanity,” a fact that both reflected Masonic ideals and spoke to Franklin’s mission of building support for Americans’ efforts to achieve independence.
The exhibition highlights objects in the Library and Archives collection, including printed items produced by, and associated with, the Lodge of Nine Sisters. These items are drawn from a collection of material originally gathered by Claude-Emmanuel-Joseph-Pierre, Marquis de Pastoret, who served as Venerable Master of the Lodge of Nine Sisters from 1788 to 1789. Objects on display include two membership lists of the Lodge from the 1700s that show the names of some of its illustrious members, as well as an invitation to an “Academic Festival” co-sponsored by the Lodge and Benjamin Franklin in 1783 “on the occasion of the Peace between England and her former American colonies.” Also on display are items from the Library’s collection, including the first Masonic book published in America, The Constitutions of the Free-Masons, printed by Franklin in 1734.
From locomotives to lipsticks, Raymond Loewy and his industrial design firms created some the most important design innovations in the 20th century. “Raymond Loewy: Designs for a Consumer Culture,” showcases his work, placing it in the wider context of the shaping of a modern look for consumer culture. His career is brought to life by an array of original drawings, models, products, advertisements, photographs, and rare film footage of Loewy at work.
Raymond Loewy became involved in the emerging world of industrial design in the 1920s after a successful career in commercial illustration. He eventually would become the best-known industrial designer in the world. He spent more than five decades streamlining and modernizing silverware and fountain pens, supermarkets and department stores. Loewy and his teams designed the color scheme and logo for Air Force One, the John F. Kennedy memorial stamp, the Greyhound Scenicruiser, and the interiors for NASA’s Skylab. Clients included such icons as Coca-Cola, Exxon, and Lucky Strike cigarettes.
On view is the sleek model of the 1951 “bullet nose” Studebaker Champion. The Champion represents the first of the Studebaker line to have that particular style front end. The circular design that was mimicked in the interior instrument panel and dashboard was meant to convey the look and feel of an airplane. The more than five-foot tall, stunning UPB 100 Jukebox was designed for United Music Corporation in 1958. Loewy and his wife Viola placed one of the jukeboxes in their Fifth Avenue apartment for their guests’ enjoyment. Visitors will also enjoy the GG1 locomotive model designed by Loewy, which launched an effort to modernize the railroad’s image. Streamlining began as an attempt to shape and smooth transportation vehicles along aerodynamic lines for greater operating efficiency, but in reality it was almost always done for the sake of appearance. It soon became the dominant visual style of the 1930s.
“Raymond Loewy: Designs for a Consumer Culture” draws heavily on Loewy’s personal archives, a treasure collection of images and information not previously available to researchers or the public. A national magazine said of him in 1950, “Loewy has probably affected the daily life of more Americans than any other man of his time.” Many of his designs are still in use today.
“Raymond Loewy: Designs for a Consumer Culture,” is made possible by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and is organized by the Hagley Museum and Library and toured by ExhibitsUSA.
To Build and Sustain: Freemasons in American Community
The National Heritage Museum looks to broaden public awareness of the principles of Freemasonry and its history with its long-term exhibition, “To Build and Sustain: Freemasons in American Community.” The exhibition is designed to explain what Freemasonry is and why men have continued to join the fraternity throughout American history. A companion book, American Freemasonry: Three Centuries of Building Communities, written by our past Curator of Masonic and Fraternal Collections Mark Tabbert, is now available in the Heritage Shop
Freemasonry’s long history in America is presented in an accessible and imaginative way in the exhibition. A series of display areas within the gallery are designed to represent various American buildings and create a town-like quality. Visitors travel through the town’s “streets” and “buildings” learning American history, meeting historic Freemasons, and discovering their work in America’s communities.
“The buildings in the exhibition physically demonstrate the stonemason’s craft and symbolically represent the concept of Freemasons working together to build community by making individual men better,” said Mark Tabbert, Curator of the exhibition. “Visitors will be surprised to discover that behind our ever-changing history and community lies a permanent Masonic landscape continually echoing the fraternity’s symbols, tools, and principles. Visitors will come to understand the craft of Freemasonry is a system of morality constructed by symbols and taught through allegory and rituals.”
The initial section of “To Build and Sustain” is divided into three parts that explain the origins of Freemasonry, and its role in the American Revolution and the early Republic. The first part shows three sources that helped create Freemasonry in the early 1700s: Judeo-Christian religion, medieval stonemason guilds, and the English Enlightenment. The second part explains Freemasonry’s development in the American colonies and its attraction to men like Benjamin Franklin. The third part explains how Masonic and Enlightenment principles were used to establish the United States, with Brother George Washington’s role in laying the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol.
After the Anti-Masonic Period of the 1820s and 1830s, the exhibition’s second section provides reasons why men join the fraternity to the present day. Divided into seven different display cases or “buildings,” each provides a historical and individual reason for membership. Self-improvement, social, family and community service activities among others have all attracted men. The Masonic principles that supported these activities also encouraged Masons to build and support new Masonic organizations such as the Shriners, Order of the Eastern Star and DeMolay for Boys. Other Americans used the fraternity as a model to build Masonic-like organizations such as the Moose, Elks, or Knights of Columbus. The objects displayed in each “building” also illustrate the consistency of Masonic principles through time, from an 1870s Masonic charity account book to the disbursement of $3 million collected by Freemasons for the September 11 New York Relief Fund.
“Freemasonry is the common ancestor of most American voluntary associations. Showing a progression from Masonic to present-day organizations allows visitors to see this lineage and move forward or backward in time,” explained Tabbert. “So if a visitor understands Masonic networks in 1800, they might understand why business and professional associations developed in the 1870s, which, in turn, developed into such clubs as Rotary International in the 1900s. Conversely, visitors who are familiar with today’s Rotary may see how local businessmen began organizing clubs in the 1870s, and how Freemasonry has provided such opportunities since the 1700s.”
The exhibition’s concluding section provides information on how the today’s Freemasons sustain modern American communities. Divided into three display areas, they echo Freemasonry’s tenets of brotherly love, relief, and truth as they show Freemasons supporting religious and racial toleration, providing health care and disaster relief, while funding colleges and scholarships, and building libraries and museums such as the National Heritage Museum. Through this work, the visitor may understand that Freemasonry’s purpose is to make “good men better,” who, in turn, create, build and sustain good communities.
Throughout the exhibition there are various interactive and “touchable” ways for visitors to understand Masonic principles, symbols, and history. At the exhibition’s conclusion a computer interactive encourages visitors to explore detailed information on Masonic activities.
The museum has gathered important Masonic artifacts from more than 35 states, Canada and Europe, that range from 1584 to 2001. Among the 175 artifacts and images displayed are: the trowel used by George Washington to lay the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol, an 1830 broadside from Nauvoo, Illinois, announcing a play at the Masonic Hall in support of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, and President Kennedy’s Knights of Columbus membership card. An important decorative arts piece is on loan from Colonial Williamsburg. The Bucktrout Masonic Chair, made by Benjamin Bucktrout, between 1769-1775, was probably used by Peyton Randolph when he served as Provincial Grand Master of Masons in Virginia in 1774. Randolph was later the president of the Continental Congress in 1775. The chair has never before been exhibited in New England, and has only been on loan in New York City, Minneapolis and Los Angeles. The bulk of the exhibit, however, concentrates on artifacts from lesser-known Masons who did unheralded but good work within their communities.
A new exhibition on Masonic and fraternal aprons opens June 30 in the National Heritage Museum’s Van Gorden-Williams Library. “Unlocking the Code: Masonic and Fraternal Aprons” draws from the Museum’s preeminent collection to explore the symbols of Freemasonry, as well as the techniques used to make this ceremonial garb from the 1700s to the 1900s, and the influence of Masonic aprons on the design of those used by other fraternal groups. In addition, a selection from the collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts will be part of the exhibition. The Grand Lodge holds one of the top apron collections in the country, which includes pieces from around the world over a period of two centuries.
Aprons are one of the best-known symbols of Freemasons. When the fraternity was founded in the 1700s in England and America, the group looked to the traditions and tools of actual stonemasons to develop their ritual and philosophy. The protective leather aprons worn by stonemasons and other workmen in the 1600s and 1700s inspired the painted, printed and embroidered symbolic aprons in the exhibition.
During the late 1700s and early 1800s, aprons were made from leather, silk, cotton and linen and were decorated with symbols and motifs that Masons learned as part of their ritualized degree ceremonies. Some were hand-painted or hand-embroidered, while others were printed using designs from books, certificates and other materials for inspiration. Throughout this exhibition, the aprons are paired with archival and library materials that relate to their design.
The exhibition will be on view through December 9, 2007, with a rotation in mid-September to preserve the aprons for future study and exhibition, as well as to share a greater number from the Museum’s collection with our visitors.
Pets in America: The Story of Our Lives with Animals at Home
Americans are passionate about their pets, so much so that two-thirds of American households own at least one animal. “Pets in America: The Story of Our Lives with Animals at Home,” on view at the National Heritage Museum March 31 through October 14, 2007, is a charming and informative exhibition exploring our relationships with the furry, feathered, and sometimes scaly creatures we hold dear.
“Pets in America” will feature more than 200 objects and photographs including pet portraits from the 1800s, a dog treadmill from the 1890s, early veterinary medicines, vintage pet food packaging, antique collars, birdcages, aquariums, and print ads. The objects are drawn from public and private collections across the nation. The exhibition explores American love of the company of animals, and how this relationship has changed as our country and culture have evolved. For example, with the burgeoning prosperity of American society in the 1800s, people’s interest in and kindness to animals also increased, eventually giving rise to the multi-billion dollar pet industry of today. At the same time, the practice of using animals as beasts of burden disappeared.
“Pets in America” surveys American preferences for various kinds of pets and discusses how we have regarded them over time. Past generations were more partial to having caged birds than we are today. Dogs and cats were sometimes both pets and workers. Exotic-animal pets were rare, often souvenirs of foreign travel. Small animals continue to be most common in households with children, but some, such as the hamster and the gerbil, were not introduced to the American home until the mid-1900s. One important change in pet ownership came with the new interest in “purebred” animals beginning in the 1840s. Some Americans became involved in animal “fancies,” reshaping their pets through selective breeding and showing them in competitions. The exhibition explores the phenomenon of pets as family members, pets as hobbies, and the rise of pets as symbols and celebrities. Today, as American households get smaller and more people live alone, the exhibition suggests that pets will play even greater significance in our lives.
Send in a photo of your pet for display:
To celebrate the exhibition, the museum invites you to send in a personal photo that represents your pet, past or present. All photographs submitted will be displayed at some point during the exhibition. Please send a copy of your photograph, since submissions cannot be returned. The National Heritage Museum will not be able to exhibit photographs any larger than 8 x 10 inches or photographs that are mounted, matted, or framed. No disks, negative or slides, please.
Mail or deliver a copy of your photograph to the museum.
Pets in America
National Heritage Museum
33 Marrett Road
Lexington, MA 02421
Please include your name and address, and a brief comment about your pet, or the image you are submitting (optional). Please call the National Heritage Museum with questions at (781) 457-4101.
The exhibition also has a companion website, which provides a virtual tour. It can be accessed at www.PetsinAmerica.org. Two accompanying books,Pets in America: A History and At Home with Animals: People and Pets in America by Katherine C.Grier, have been published in conjunction with the exhibition. Pets in America: A History is a detailed portrait of Americans’ relationships with the cats, dogs, birds, fishes, rodents, and other animals we call our own. At Home with Animals: People and Pets in America is colorful and informative look at the “stuff” that reflects our lives with animals. They are available in the Heritage Shop for $34.95 and $20.00 respectively.
The Art of the Needle: Masterpiece Quilts from the Shelburne Museum
Pyrotechnic Star Quilt, mid-19th century. Attributed to Emma Jane Perry Proctor, Fair Haven, Vermont. Courtesy of the Shelburne Museum.
“The Art of the Needle: Masterpiece Quilts from the Shelburne Museum” is an an exquisite exhibition drawn from one of the richest and most diverse quilt collections in the country. It will feature forty antique quilts, most gathered by pioneering collector and founder of the Shelburne Museum, Electra Havemeyer Webb. In 1954 she offered the public the first museum gallery devoted to quilts and textiles. Wholecloth, pieced and appliquéd examples from New England and other parts of the United States will be on display. The exhibition is a special opportunity to see and enjoy quilts and textiles from a collection internationally known for its exceptional depth, range and quality.
For Every Fighter A Woman Worker: World War I Posters
As America entered World War I, it also entered the modern age. To encourage support for the war effort, both the United States government and private organizations created a host of advertisements – window cards, subway car cards, and 700 poster designs. More than 20 million placards hung in public spaces and workplaces citizens could not escape their patriotic message. In this exhibition, the National Heritage Museum presents a selection of the arresting advertisements that speak to the different and expanded roles of women played in World War I.
“For Every Fighter A Woman Worker” features a selection of 20 posters drawn from the Museum’s collection. Highlights of the show include works by James Montgomery Flagg, J.C. Leyendecker, and Howard Chandler Christy. While these well-known illustrators portrayed romanticized images of women, they also showed the ways women contributed to the war effort as inspiration, as workers, and as supporters.
The Van Gorden-Williams Library presents “A New and Useful Improvement: 19th-Century Patents and Their Inventors,” an uncommon look at original patents coupled with the stories of the amateur inventors who staked their hopes and fortunes these new and often ingenious ideas.
Throughout American history, inventors have sought to protect their rights to make and sell their inventions through patents. However, until 1835, the U.S. Patent Office granted patents without examining the merit or novelty of the inventions. As a result, many of the patents granted were worthless or in conflict with other designs.
The Patent Act of 1836 required an inventor to submit a specification or written description of the invention, drawing or drawings of the invention, along with a scale model. The invention had to be proven both useful and new before the patent would be granted. The law also emphasized the necessity of determining the utility or novelty of an invention. President Andrew Jackson was a key figure in establishing this new patent system and its requirements.
A vast number of aspiring amateur inventors flooded the Patent Office with their ideas in the mid-1800s.Among those amateur inventors were John M. Chandler, Amory Davidson, James W. Hodges, and John B. Root.Their patent ideas included improvements on bracelet fastenings, a machine for washing clothes, an automatic steam trap, and baling presses.
More than 150 stunning examples of Shaker dedication to simplicity and function will be on display in the exhibition, “Handled With Care: The Function of Form in Shaker Craft,” at the National Heritage Museum through April 22, 2007.
From dustpans to brushes to baskets to buckets, the exhibition celebrates the beauty of everyday objects that are at once utilitarian, artful, and expressions of the Shaker faith. Many pieces included have a handle of some sort, demonstrating the usefulness of the objects and the care with which they have been “handled” since they were made. The handles show how these objects connected not only to Shaker ideas, but also to real people who built and ran Shaker communities. Shelves, tables and chests on which these objects would rest or be stored will also be presented.
“Handled With Care” works to indicate how Shakers’ quiet devotion to purity and utility in all things, no matter how humble, created useful objects that, through their simplicity and efficiency, transcended their purpose to becoime acts of faith. It was their quest to live in a heaven on earth with a distinctive material world reflecting that duty. Spared from extraneous ornamentation seen in worldly goods, the functional objects made by Shaker hands are of clean lines and unexpected grace.
Round baskets of white ash, carriers of maple and pine, a deeply varnished hat form, iron work, and graceful table swifts for winding yarn are just a few of the objects on view. The simplicity of the pieces, and the perfect connection between design and the tasks for which objects are made, will allow the visitor to experience the grace and visual sensuality the Shakers brought to their day-to-day tasks. The deeper significance of Shaker-made objects will be explored.
The Shakers were founded in England in 1747, and they arrived in America in 1774. The tenets of the religion are based on the confession of sin, communal life, and celibacy. Shakers also believe in gender equality, pacifism, and a dedication to creating heaven on earth. Today, four remaining Shakers live in Sabbathday Lake, Maine.
“Handled With Care” is drawn from the collection of M. Stephen and Miriam Miller and the permanent collection of Hancock Shaker Village. Before the exhibition opened at the village in Spring of 2006, many of the objects had never been exhibited. The Museum is the only eastern New England venue.
A full-color exhibition catalogue, authored by M. Stephen Miller and Christian Goodwillie, curator of collections at the Hancock Shaker Village, will be on sale in the Heritage Shop. The publication features several essays by the curators, and by noted Shaker scholar Glendyne Wergland.
Journey Out of Darkness: American Heroes in Hitler's POW Camps
They fought a double war, over sixty years ago, first in combat and then in captivity as prisoners of war. How can we know them and what they have endured? The answer, surely, is story by story, soldier by soldier.
More than 100,000 American servicemen were held in Nazi Germany during World War II. In the prison camps, they faced an unrelenting battle against abuse, overwork, dysentery, and starvation. Many POWs lost up to half their body weight, soon resembling concentration camp survivors. Contrary to today’s popular mythology, escape was but a pipe dream for nearly all POWs. And yet they adapted to adversity, triumphed over humiliation, and survived the war’s chaotic end in 1945.
When they returned home, former POWs were not honored by their countrymen. They struggled with chronic injuries and feelings of shame for having been captured, for simply surviving. The U.S. military, in fact, ordered many of them to remain silent about their experiences. So they buried their anguish and got on with life. They bravely endured.
Today, fewer than 20,000 World War II POWs are still alive, and ten more die each day. Starting in the 1980s, the twenty former POWs featured in this exhibition banded together through support groups run by the Veterans Administration. They have found, in each other’s company, healing solace and the freedom to tell their stories. These photographs by Jörg Meyer and stories by Hal LaCroix reveal the heroic spirit of tenacious survivors. Listen to a recent interview with some of the veterans on WBUR’s “On Point.”
In Motion: The African-AMerican Migration Experience
The transatlantic slave trade has created an enduring image of black men and women as transported commodities, and is usually considered the most defining element in the construction of the African Diaspora. It is, however, the centuries of additional movements that have given shape to the nation we know today. “In Motion: The African American Migration Experience” explores the journeys of people of African descent who have not before been considered part of America’s migratory tradition. The exhibition tells the story of the men and women forced out of Africa; of enslaved people moved to the Deep South; of fugitives walking to freedom across the country; of southerners migrating west and north, and of immigrants arriving from the Caribbean, South America and Africa. “In Motion” is on view at the National Heritage Museum from October 14, 2006 through February 25, 2007.
“In Motion” presents a new interpretation of African-American history, one that focuses on the self-motivated activities of peoples of African descent to remake themselves and their worlds. Of the thirteen defining migrations that formed and transformed African America, only the transatlantic slave trade and the domestic slave trades were coerced. The eleven others were voluntary movements of resourceful and creative men and women, risk-takers in an exploitative and hostile environment. Their survival skills, efficient networks, and dynamic culture enabled them to thrive and spread, and to be at the very core of the settlement and development of the Americas. Their hopeful journeys changed not only their world and the fabric of the African Diaspora but also the Western Hemisphere.
These journeys did not originate in the east with the 1619 arrival of Africans in Jamestown, Virginia, as is commonly believed, but almost a century earlier, further south. Indeed, African-American history starts in the 1500s with the first Africans coming from Mexico and the Caribbean to the Spanish territories of Florida, Texas, and other parts of the South. And as early as 1526, Africans rebelled and ran away in South Carolina.
These precursors were followed by successive generations of runaways who did not confine themselves to running North and to Canada on the Underground Railroad as traditional history teaches us. With pragmatism and efficiency, they also moved south to Mexico, or to the Bahamas. They left the plantations and settled, secretly, in the urban centers of the South, or found refuge in the swamps and among Native populations.
Migration has been central in the making of African-American history and culture. The transatlantic slave trade was fundamental to the development of the colonial economy; and after the Revolution, the domestic slave trade was the engine that enabled the expansion of the cotton economy. In the twentieth century, black migrations from the South were crucial to America’s urban industrial development. They transformed a southern, rural population into a national, urban one, and the black presence throughout the country has influenced American legal systems as well as social and cultural policies and practices.
Today’s 35 million African Americans are heirs to all the migrations that have formed and transformed African America, the United States, and the Western Hemisphere. They represent the most diverse population in the United States, a population that has embraced its varied heritages created by millions of men and women constantly on the move, looking for better opportunities, starting over, paving the way, and making sacrifices for future generations.
“In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience” exhibition is organized by the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library and sponsored by the National Heritage Museum.
What do palmetto trees, rattlesnakes, and the Statue of Liberty have in common? The answer is revealed with a visit to “American Visions of Liberty and Freedom.” The exhibition shows how generations of Americans, from Revolutionary times to the present, have drawn, carved, and quilted symbols to represent their sometimes conflicting definitions of liberty and freedom. Among the more than 200 objects in the exhibition are icons such as the Statue of Liberty, Uncle Sam, and the American flag that have been revived, revised, reviled, or reinterpreted to express the concerns of succeeding generations.
For example, following the September 11, 2001, attacks, all U.S. Navy vessels were ordered to fly the navy’s original red-and-white striped naval jack bearing a rattlesnake and the words “Don’t Tread On Me.” This was the jack used in the Revolutionary War, and its use was revived as a symbol of our nation’s traditional resolve. The flag on view in the exhibition was flown aboard the USS Nashville during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Similarly, the palmetto tree, a Revolutionary War symbol of South Carolina’s resistance to the British, reappeared during the secession movement of 1860–1861.
The first exhibition section, “E Pluribus Unum,” deals with the mounting protest against British policies such as the Stamp Act, Townsend Acts, and Tea Act. Regional symbols of resistance, like the backwoods rattlesnake symbol, spread throughout the nation. After the war, the new nation realized it needed unifying symbols for the nation’s varying interpretations of liberty and freedom. Important objects in this section are a “Liberty Tree” powder horn, a 1790 cotton textile panel called “The Apotheosis of Franklin,” and a rare silver badge from the African American “Bucks of America,” a Massachusetts Revolutionary War unit composed of former slaves.
“A New Birth of Freedom” deals with the place of African Americans in American society, terminating in civil war. The abolitionist movement, secession movement, Confederacy, and Union each had its own symbols. The hammer of an 1863 rifle is cast in the shape of President Abraham Lincoln’s head, and a whale’s tooth is incised with a picture of a member of the United States Colored Troops. An African American in his country’s uniform, bearing a weapon, was a powerful symbol of freedom, especially to black Americans.
“The Golden Door” focuses on issues of economic justice from the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty in 1886 through the New Deal to the globalization issues of today. The section “Freedom Now!” shows the symbols invented by 20th century social movements including the woman suffrage and civil rights movements, and how liberty and freedom are invoked by both sides on today’s controversial issues. The final section, “To Make the World Safe for Democracy,” examines the tension between liberty and security in wartime, from the Spanish American War to the war against terrorism.
The exhibition is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and organized by the Virginia Historical Society with additional support from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and the Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Changing Exhibitions Fund.
Gershwin to Gillespie: Portraits in American Music
A salute to 20th-century American music is being composed at the National Heritage Museum via the photography exhibition “Gershwin to Gillespie: Portraits in American Music,” on view April 15 through September 17, 2006. The exhibition offers glimpses into the lives and personalities of the greatest American musicians and composers, as captured by some of the most influential American photographers, including Philippe Halsman and Annie Leibovitz. Among those depicted in the 50 featured photographs are George Gershwin, Dizzy Gillespie, Leonard Bernstein, Lukas Foss, John Philip Sousa, Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Aretha Franklin. The exhibition was organized by George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.
“Individually, these images present us with portraits of determination, idealism and a strong sense of self. As a group, these images give us a wonderful cross-section of American musical life,” noted musicologist Olivia Mattis, guest curator of the exhibition. “These are complicit images involving a partnership between a number of America’s most influential photographers and some highly creative American music personalities who were concerned about their place in history.”
The exhibition is arranged in four sections: Champions of American Music, Great American Composers, Legends of American Jazz, and Icons of American Pop. The musical legends have been captured in various poses and settings, from studio shots and live stage performances to recording sessions. For instance, Philippe Halsman’s portrait of Louis Armstrong clearly illustrates why Halsman was Life magazine’s most popular cover photographer. Rolling Stone photographer Annie Leibovitz is represented through her creative images of Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, and B.B. King. Also on view is the story behind Art Kane’s famous A Great Day in Harlem—one of the most famous jazz images of all time.
“In putting together the exhibition I looked for images by photographers who were at least as well known as the subjects,” Mattis explained. “For Sinatra, I chose Halsman. For Bob Dylan, I chose Annie Leibovitz. For Gershwin, I chose Steichen. I was not interested in snapshots nor in publicity shots. Rather, I looked for images where the photographer and the musician were engaged in a creative dialogue. There is a spark or an energy that is released when two creative forces come together in a single artistic expression.”
Picturing What Matters: An Offering of Photographs from the George Eastman House Collection
Historically, tumultuous events frame anew the question of what “matters” to us, as individuals, as a community, and as a society. Photography has long been a powerful force in giving personal and cultural currency to what we deem important and in shaping our collective memory. “Picturing What Matters: An Offering of Photographs from George Eastman House Collection” is an exhibition of 126 photographs selected by the Eastman House staff who looked at the treasures in their collection with new perspectives after the events of September 11. The resulting exhibition is designed to not only commemorate the tragedies of September 11, 2001, but also to evoke meaning from our common visual history. The exhibition is on view at the National Heritage Museum February 4 through May 21, 2006.
For “Picturing What Matters,” the Eastman House staff selected images that moved them, creating a display of photographs that is diverse in subject and format, but united by a common spirit. Themes of family, work and leisure, national milestones, crisis, patriotism, and quirky glimpses of life are all on view. Collectively, the photographs voice a refrain for family and community that extends beyond national boundaries to universal values shared throughout the world.
The 108 photographers represented in the exhibition are also varied, with careers spanning the last two centuries. Joe Rosenthal’s Old Glory Goes Up on Mt. Suribachi; Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother and Ansel Adams’s Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite, California, as well as photos by Robert Frank, Lewis Hine, Walker Evans, William Henry Jackson, Mark Cohen, Ben Fernandez, and Danny Lyon, affirm the beliefs and ideals held by a people and a nation. An eight-page, two-color companion guide is available.
Be Part of the Exhibition
As part of “Picturing What Matters,” the National Heritage Museum invites the public to send in a personal photo (old or new) that represents an individual’s values, hopes or dreams. All photographs submitted through April 15, 2006 will be displayed at some point during the exhibition. Please send a copy of your photograph, since submissions cannot be returned. The National Heritage Museum will not be able to exhibit photographs any larger than 8 x 10 inches or photographs that are mounted, matted, or framed. No disks, negative or slides, please.
Mail or deliver a copy of your photograph to the Museum. Picturing What Matters National Heritage Museum 33 Marrett Rd. Lexington, MA 02421
Please include your name and address, and a brief comment about the image you are submitting (optional). Please call the National Heritage Museum with questions at (781) 861-6559, x 4101.
During the Great Depression, 1929-1939, over 250,000 young people left home in hope and desperation and began riding freight trains or hitchhiking across America. Most of the them were between 16 and 25 years of age. Thousands of businesses had failed, and scores of schools had been forced to close, making jobs scarce and advanced education unavailable. Whether they were escaping wrenching poverty or abusive families, or were simply seeking adventure, for many teenagers, leaving home seemed like the best option.
An entire generation of adolescents spent time on the road and away from family and home. Some followed the harvest seasons of various fruits and grains across the country and became temporary labor for farmers. Others got meals and a free night’s lodging from mission churches. Most spent time in hobo camps, subsisting on stolen or begged food. The lucky ones got temporary jobs with the Civilian Conservation Corps, which gave them food and a place to live for six months or more. This exhibition, with five sections, shows their struggle through photographs, books, oral histories and excerpts from letters of hoboes from the Uys Family Oral History Collection.
This intriguing but seldom-told story caught the attention of filmmaker Michael Uys and his wife Lexy Lovell, who began collecting original accounts of individual’s stories. In 1993, they advertised in Modern Maturity magazine, asking for stories from boxcar boys and girls. The couple created a documentary film from the over 3,000 responses, questionnaires, and interviews. Realizing that these oral histories were rich with stories important to Depression-era history, the Uys family donated their collection of letters, questionnaires and audio tapes to the Museum in 2004, to make the materials available to other researchers.
“More young women break down their strength with washing than with any other toil…” Julia McNair Wright, The Complete Home, 1879
In any household, from the 1700s to today, laundry always needs doing. Housewives, writers of domestic advice, and manufacturers have described laundry as a problem, but one that could be taken care of with work, method, good soap, plenty of water and the occasional secret recipe for removing spots. The vast majority of people responsible for solving this problem through the ages were women. Some were rich and some were poor; they lived on farms, in cities or even traveled on the Overland Trail-but they all needed to find a way to do the laundry.
“Blue Monday: Doing Laundry in America” premiering at the National Heritage Museum, July 30, 2005 to March 4, 2006, tells the story of how domestic technology, gender roles, and consumer culture have met and mixed around a ubiquitous household task.
The exhibition explores how laundry was done in times past and who did it-be it housewives, servants, laundresses or laundrymen. It also examines the different innovations that inventors have developed to lighten the burden on laundry day as well as how manufacturers and marketers sought to sell soap, washing machines and a whole host of laundry-related products to American women. Mostly, it looks how doing laundry has both changed and remained the same over the last two hundred years.
In creating this exhibition, the Museum worked with local collectors Joseph and Lilian Shapiro. Their business enterprise, Lundermac Company, which provides coin-operated washing machines for apartment buildings and dormitories, fueled their interest in historic technologies for getting dirty clothes clean. They have been collecting laundry-related material since 1983, and now have more than 5,000 objects. The majority of the material displayed in “Blue Monday” comes from the Shapiros’ collection. The collection has never before been exhibited to the public.
Included in “Blue Monday” are washing tools from the 1700s to the present. Innovative hand and electric-powered washing machines, wringers, mangles, irons, creative advertising, colorful laundry product packaging, engaging store displays, soap crates, and toys that taught children how to do laundry are on view.
Visitors also see the machines and products that manufacturers sold with promises to make “wash day a pic-nic” with soap that worked “like lightning in the laundry,” or a washing machine that was simply a “woman?s friend.”
“Blue Monday” introduces some of the housewives, laundresses and laundry workers who got the wash done. These women managed, week after week, to handle the job one home economist called “…the bane of the American housemother’s professional life.” After seeing how doing laundry has shaped Americans’ time and lives, visitors to “Blue Monday” will very likely want to, “go put on a clean dress, brew cup of tea, set and rest and rock a spell and count blessings,” as Utah pioneer Sarah Ann Prince used to do after she completed a day of washing in the 1870s.
Four years after the shocking terrorist attacks in the United States, Americans continue to connect to the events of September 11. The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) presents “September 11: Bearing Witness to History,” an interactive, commemorative exhibition that encourages visitors to not only reflect on the specific events of that horrific day, but also to contemplate the significance of experiencing an historic event as it unfolds.
Comment cards from visitors to “September 11: Bearing Witness to History” were sent to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History to become part of a permanent archive. Here we share a few observations from our visitors.
“A friend and her family live in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y.The young teen daughter was home from school that day.They went to the waterfront to look at the buildings burning.The teen told me later, ‘I could see pieces of the building falling all the way down.’She looked at me and I looked at her.We both knew she meant people, not pieces of the building.But we didn’t talk about that.”Submitted by a woman, age 47
“Words cannot express how September 11th changed my life.But I live with a different purpose now; to be happy in all that I do, all that I am and in what I can offer to others.Nothing for me is or ever will be as terrible as September 11th.My brother?s memory gives me strength with each day.I am after all, sister of Raymond J. Metz III.”Posted by a woman, age 40, who lost her beloved brother
“This is my second time viewing the exhibit–once in LA and now in Lexington, MA.The horror floods back to me.The knot in my stomach reappears.It’s difficult to take our safety for granted anymore.Years of unnecessary war make me feel less safe than before 9/11.When will the fear end?Not during my lifetime.” Views of a woman, age 56
“What I saw that day is something I would never forget.Witnessing and surviving a disaster of that magnitude is not easy.Survivors keep moving on but the memories will never leave us.I started a support group for survivors, www.3wtc.org.”Written by a woman who escaped from the World Trade Center
The traveling exhibition opened at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, Massachusetts on September 11, 2005. The exhibition will remain on view through January 1, 2006.
Memories of World War II: Photographs from the Archives of the Associated Press
On Memorial Day 2004, as veterans of World War II converged on Washington for the dedication of a monument to global victory 60 years ago, their achievements and sacrifices were further recalled in an exhibition of photographs from the archives of the Associated Press. That show, “Memories of World War II,” came to the Museum from May 28 through August 7, 2005. During the war, nearly 200 AP reporters and photographers fanned out around the globe. Five AP reporters lost their lives; seven others won Pulitzer Prizes. As the main source of war news for most of the nation’s newspapers, the AP offered Americans a daily view of the conflict.
The best of these images made up this exhibition–a spectrum of 121 photos from the war and the home front, ranging from the classic Iwo Jima flag-raising to women workers in a Douglas aircraft plant. Familiar scenes of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and British and American troops hitting Normandy beaches on D-Day were juxtaposed with scores of pictures not seen in decades. Photographs showed Hitler and Mussolini at the peak of fascist power, Winston Churchill in unmistakable silhouette, and Nazi SS troops herding defiant Jews after the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. “Memories of World War II” was a deeply moving exhibition for older audiences and brought a deeper understanding of the war to younger visitors.
The Western Pursuit of the American Dream: Selections from the Collection of Kenneth W. Rendell
Rich in natural resources, cultures, and opportunities, the American West has made dreamers of generations of Americans. The exhibition “The Western Pursuit of the American Dream” presents the outstanding holdings of collector Kenneth W. Rendell to tell the story of the dream of freedom and opportunity in the West and how it inspired adventures, trade, and legends. Nearly 200 spectacular objects chronicle the West through the actual words and artifacts of explorers, travelers, warriors, gold seekers, merchants, outlaws—dreamers all—who shaped the American frontier. The exhibition is on view July 17, 2004, through April 24, 2005.
The journey of “The Western Pursuit of the American Dream” begins with the Spanish in Mexico and ends with filmmakers in Hollywood. It includes stops to explore the fur trade, cartography, industry, artistry, and tourism. Mr. Rendell’s collection speaks to the visitor through letters, diaries and first-hand descriptions, as well as the intriguing artifacts he has collected over a period of nearly fifty years. Treasures such as a first edition of the History of the Expedition… of Captains Lewis and Clark, and personal accounts by traders, trappers, and travelers provide a close-up glimpse of the West. The story is also told through remarkable artifacts—a Cheyenne baby carrier, a mountain man’s shot pouch, gold gathered by forty-niners, and a gun owned by Sitting Bull. “These remnants of the past,” said Mr. Rendell, “express as no historian can, the realities, anxieties, and hope of a new life that the West represented. This sense of hope was not exclusive to the people who actually went there, but was also felt by those who merely fantasized about escaping to the frontier.”
The trek by Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and their Corps of Discovery is one of America’s legendary adventures. Silver peace medals like those used by Lewis and Clark to gain the trust of Indian leaders are on view. A extraordinarily rare, first-edition map of Lewis and Clark’s journey, which portrayed far more territory than anticipated and further fueled the lure of the West, is an exhibition highlight.
The exhibition presents Mr. Rendell’s overview of how the West’s distinctive landscape, as well as the opportunity it held, affected many 19th-century Americans. Exceptional examples of Indian trade silver, peace medals, pipe tomahawks, and muskets, offer a look into the dealings of businesses like John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company and bring the era of the fur trade to life. Colorful descriptions of adventures by traders show how such accounts persuaded others to make a living in the wilderness.
Adventuring artists at work in the territories helped shape American and European ideas about Indians and their culture. Painters like Karl Bodmer and George Catlin not only observed, but provided written descriptions of the native people and customs they considered fascinating in the 1830s and 1840s. Prints like Bodmer’s Bison Dance of the Mandan Indians and Catlin’s Ball-Play Dance worked to preserve the even-then vanishing way of life.
In the 1840s, the era of Manifest Destiny, Americans were consumed with dreams of settling the West. The time period is recalled through a fascinating selection of “emigrant guides” used by travelers to cross the continent. Publications like The Route Across the Rocky Mountains and Emigrants’ Guide to Oregon and Californiapresent a look at the track used for the first great overland migration.
Miners soon followed emigrants to the West. The story of the California gold rush is told through evocative early photographs of miners and their effects. Panning equipment, travel guides, gold nuggets, and coins are just some of the objects that speak to the dream of striking it rich in places where streets were purportedly paved in gold.
Others found ways to earn a living in the West. Soon after the Civil War, industrialization spread with the transcontinental railroad. Within two years of its completion in 1869, passengers and freight could cross the continent in a matter of days. Stereograph images from events like the Golden Spike Ceremony, and the idealized prints of railroad travel by Currier and Ives fueled enthusiasm for many to pursue opportunity in the West.
“This exhibition also explores how the Indians were correct in feeling invaded by the railroad,” said Mr. Rendell. “For the Indians, the railroad represented the beginning of the end. Within 30 years they would be forced onto reservations.” Mr. Rendell’s collection evokes the Indian ways of life that were virtually destroyed by the advent of the railroad. Superb examples of Indian artifacts include a Plains pictorial buffalo hide, a Sioux dance rattle, and a complete Mandan warrior dress, including shirt, leggings, and headdress, to name just a few.
The tourism industry in the West was launched in the wake of the opening of the railroad. Eye-catching posters advertised train service to then-exotic places like the Grand Canyon. A nine-passenger open coach used to tour visitors through Yellowstone is sure to spark the visitor’s imagination.
“The Western Pursuit of the American Dream” also reveals the tension between the romance and the realities of the West. The exhibition presents Davy Crockett stories, the sculptures of Frederic Remington, and tales of cowboys that often portray an idealized view of life. Even the story of the infamous outlaw Jesse James depicts a complex character that was both admired and loathed in his day. The exciting Pony Express is shown to have been a short-lived venture that operated for only 18 months in the mid-19th century.
The exhibition also examines the widespread public fascination in the 19th century with all things Native American. While the U.S. government worked to make the traditional ways of life vanish, collecting artifacts associated with legendary leaders like Sitting Bull and Geronimo was extremely popular. Photographer Edward Curtis worked for more than 30 years to capture his view of the Indian through stately and poignant portraits.
“The Western Pursuit of the American Dream” concludes with a look at how the history of the West fit naturally with the Hollywood dream-machine. Watching movies likeStagecoach and television shows such as Bonanza have made people around the world feel that they know the American West. A cowboy hat autographed by Errol Flynn and other celebrities symbolizes how generations of American have fallen in love with the wild, imagined place that filmmakers portrayed.
“It is important to remember that the people presented in this exhibition were dreamers,” said Mr. Rendell. “In fact, the American West still inspires modern-day dreams in industry, education, and business. This is the story of the pursuit of dreams. You could say it is the story of human nature itself.”
“The Western Pursuit of the American Dream,” is accompanied by a fully-illustrated, four-color, 358-page book by the same name written by Kenneth W. Rendell. The book is available in the Museum’s Heritage Shop for $39.95. Kenneth Rendell is a dealer in historical letters and documents, with offices in Boston and a gallery on Madison Avenue.
The National Heritage Museum welcomed “Close-Up in Black: African American Film Posters,” an exhibition recounting the extraordinary story of black film history through the exquisite graphic art of the American movie poster, November 1, 2003 through January 4, 2004. This Smithsonian exhibition was drawn from the collections of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Through visually engaging posters from the Edward Mapp Collection in the academy’s Margaret Herrick Library, “Close-Up in Black” chronicled the journey of American actors, directors, writers, designers, camera crews, technicians and graphic artists who fell in love with a medium and brought their talents to its service.
Because many of these artists lived during and through times of social, political and cultural segregation, “Close-Up in Black” illuminated the journey of a nation as well as an art form. The 90 posters in the exhibition, originally designed for promotion and publicity, revealed the opulent energy and glamour of the movies, even as they revealed our cultural history.
Early portrayals of African Americans on film often reinforced minstrel stage stereotypes and racially biased perceptions. Addressing the dearth of positive images, “race movies” of the 1920s and 1930s offered African American performers the opportunity to star in Westerns, comedies, musicals, mysteries, melodramas and crime stories. These films allowed African Americans to see themselves woven into the national popular mythology and provided messages of racial uplift.
After World War II, film studios began to create “message movies” dealing with issues of racism and anti-Semitism. Produced in the 1950s and early 1960s, some of these films became vehicles for the metaphor of American justice.
The 1970s brought an explosion of films echoing the intense political, social and cultural energy of the time. Among these movies were ones with an ostentatious bravado. Termed “blaxploitation” movies, these films were created primarily by Hollywood mainstream film studios. Yet they, along with others of the period, reflected the film industry’s attempts to deal with the changing roles of African Americans in society.
In the 1980s and 1990s, a new generation of filmmakers came to the forefront — some working within the extant structure of the industry, others continuing the creative tradition of independent film. During this period, African Americans became involved in all aspects of film production. As writers, producers, directors, actors, designers, composers and technicians, their influence is evidenced by the expanded scope and breadth of today’s African American cinema depictions.
“Close-Up in Black: African American Film Posters” celebrated American film and the art of the film poster. It paid homage to the lineage of African American filmmakers, actors, and artists who struggled to make their statement on film — the 20th-century’s brave new medium. The Defiant Ones, Curtleigh and Lomitas Productions, 1958.
“Close-Up in Black: African American Film Posters” was organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Smithsonian’s Center for African American History and Culture.
The exhibition, “Revere’s Ride and Longfellow’s Legend” examined artistic depictions of Paul Revere, a legendary symbol of American heroism and patriotism. It included works by such well-known artists and illustrators as Leonard Everett Fisher, William Robinson Leigh, Charles Santore, Harold Von Schmidt, Lynd Ward, and N.C. Wyeth. The exhibition was organized by the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.
On the evening of April 18, 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren commissiioned Paul Revere and William Dawes to travel from Boston to Concord to warn patriot leaders Sam Adams and John Hancock that British troops planned to arrest them and to confiscate a cache of munitions. Revere and Dawes were stopped by the British in Lexington, but a third rider, Dr. Samuel Prescott, whom they met along the way, managed to reach Concord with the message.
Eighty-five years later, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” singled out Revere as the catalyst for the American Revolution and brought national attention to the event. He recreated Revere as a solitary hero who waited alone for the lantern signal from the Old North Church, rowed across the Charles River, and shouted his warning throughout the countryside from Charlestown to Concord.
“Paul Revere’s Ride” remains among Longfellow’s best-known works. Perhaps because the poem is frequently read and discussed in schools in an historical context, many Americans believe that the poem is a truthful account of events. Historians have long endeavored to correct this general perception, and many have sought to present a broader, more accurate picture of Revere.
Works created by artists and illustrators have played a significant role in the popular understanding of Revere and his role in the American Revolution. Many images capture the eloquence and symbolic nature of Longfellow’s poem. Illustrations published in the 1870’s in Harpers Weekly and Harper’s Magazine dramatize Revere as a princely figure whose message elicits indignation toward and resistance to British rule. Works from the late 1800s and 1900s, such as those by N.C. Wyeth, Howard Smith, and William Robinson Leigh, show Revere as an average man whose noble conscience drives him to react with courage and patriotism. Thomas Edison’s very early silent motion picture, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” staunchly honors Longfellow’s version of the man. Images created by later artists Leonard Everett Fisheer and Charles Santore depict idealized views of Revere. Modern cartoons both celebrate and lampoon Revere, while postcards, sheet music and advertising materials capitalize on Revere’s popularity.
Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, American hero, first president of the United States—these are facts that schoolchildren and adults alike readily recite about George Washington. As with any great leader, however, the deeper you look, the more there is to discover. The Museum, as part of its 30th anniversary celebration, presented a dimension of our founding father that may be new to many—George Washington as Freemason. Freemasonry was important to Washington throughout his life, as he attests in a 1791 letter, “…I shall always be glad to advance the interests of this Society and be considered by them a deserving brother.” The Museum presented rare artifacts from Masonic collections that illustrated Washington’s commitment to the fraternity and its principles and values. Included were the Bible upon which Washington swore his oath of office in 1789, the silver trowel he used to ceremonially lay the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol, and a moving letter from Washington to fellow patriot and Freemason Paul Revere. Two portraits by Rembrandt Peale from the Museum’s collection were additional highlights. Also, a life-sized sculpture of Washington cast from the marble original by the French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon will be installed permanently near the Museum’s entrance next spring. The exhibition was on view in the Museum’s Van Gorden-Williams Library.
Deep Inside the Blues: Photographs by Margo Cooper
From generation to generation, in informal settings and professional concerts, traditional Mississippi blues has thrived in the Delta and the northern hill country. Although blues was born under the clouds of racial intolerance and poverty in the segregated Jim Crow South, it is often a music of joy and release. The style afforded early players true freedom of expression while the soaring vocal phrases of the blues’ finest singers and the thrill of a deftly bent guitar string continue to stir audiences today. The National Heritage Museum presented a unique look at this enduring musical genre through the photographs of Arlington-based photographer Margo Cooper. The 38 black-and-white photographs on view were taken by Cooper over the past 10 years as she traveled throughout the Mississippi Delta to document the blues, its traditions, and its people as close to the music’s wellspring as possible. “Deep Inside the Blues: Photographs by Margo Cooper” was on view at the Museum December 18, 2004 through June 5, 2005. The exhibition also featured the writing of Blues Foundation Award-winning journalist and musician Ted Drozdowski, who prepared the show’s text and labels.
“I want people to know that the blues–which started a hundred years ago in the plantations and work camps of the rural South–is still alive,” explained Cooper. “Through my photos, I want to show that there are still musicians who carry the light of this music. Some are young performers fresh to the stage, but many are a living part of American history, like Pinetop Perkins and Honeyboy Edwards, who have been performing since the 1920s and 1930s. They play not only in concerts all over the world, but right where the blues was born, in places like Mississippi and Alabama, where the music has been passed from generation to generation and family to family.”
Cooper began photographing blues musicians and the culture surrounding their music in 1993, when a fascination she developed for the genre in high school bloomed during a yearlong sabbatical from her career as a lawyer. She chose to work in black-and-white, finding that the textures and subtle shadings it affords reflect the timelessness and the emotional resonance of this important African-American style that has influenced every form of popular music.
“When you’re there at a festival, a picnic, or a little juke joint and the blues is being played, it’s so powerful and so moving,” she says. “You can hear and see and feel the history and the culture and the generations in the rhythms of the guitars and the drums. Then you know you’re deep inside the blues.”
Cooper’s photographs–depicting musicians ranging from nationally recognized performers like B. B. King, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells to lesser-known artists both onstage and at home–gave Museum visitors their own opportunity to look “deep inside the blues.”
A Changing World: New England in the Photographs of Verner Reed 1950 - 1972
The National Heritage Museum, in partnership with Historic New England, presented a retrospective of the work of American photographer and photojournalist Verner Reed. The exhibition was on display at the National Heritage Museum from August 21, 2004 through January 2, 2005.
Verner Reed first began taking photographs in the late 1940s. It was an electric time in New England as people embraced the new even as they maintained their traditional customs. Reed’s photographs capture New Englanders in all aspects of their lives. A young farmer looks gently at his boys, who were now less likely than before to follow in their father’s footsteps. A woman sells homemade butternut fudge at a town fair–a treat from a time before factory-made candy bars. A group of older Bostonians commemorates their decades-old custom with a last lunch at the Brunswick Hotel, entranced by the music of a classical trio and ignoring the demolition surrounding them as the hotel is being torn down for urban renewal. These are the inhabitants of Reed’s New England.
Reed covered New England for Life from 1953 to 1958. His photographs were also featured in other national magazines like Fortune and Time, as well as regional publications including Vermont Life and Rhode Islander Magazine. A variety of themes emerge in Reed’s photography, including the contrast between rural and urban life, the person-to-person directness of American politics, the evolving notion of “the famous,” and the continuing construction of “old New England” as an ideal.
In the early 1970s, Reed moved away from photography. To a large extent, his striking and evocative images, once enjoyed by a national audience, have not been viewed for a quarter century. This exhibition gave museum visitors a chance to discover a keen observer of New England during an important and exciting time.
Historic New England is the new public identity for the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive regional preservation organization in the country. Historic New England offers a unique opportunity to experience the lives and stories of New Englanders through their homes and possessions.
“Lunch Box Memories,” a Smithsonian traveling exhibition at the National Heritage Museum, recalled the times and places, the heroes and heroines, the fads and fantasies of America’s youth through a rare collection of 75 metal lunch boxes. The exhibition was on view at the Museum from March 6 through July 18, 2004.
“Lunch Box Memories” featured illustrated metal lunch boxes dating from the early 1900s to one of the last boxes, manufactured in 1984. Lunch boxes originated in America around the turn of the 20th century, as the first factory workers of the American Industrial Revolution often toted lunches to work in empty biscuit containers or tobacco cans. Occasionally, children in rural areas would use them in the same way for their long journeys to school.
With the arrival of the 1950s, the status of the metal lunch box rose to that of a necessary accessory for a contented childhood. The popularity of these illustrated lunch boxes can be attributed to the post-World War II baby boom and the importance of suburban life. It became an everyday tradition for mothers to carefully pack their children’s lunches. Children anticipated lunchtime and the excitement of opening their metal box to discover if mom had included some cookies or a special note. Between the 1950s and 1960s, more than 120 million metal lunch boxes were sold in America.
The arrival of plastic materials marked the demise of these fanciful lunch boxes. Two-piece plastic boxes were more quickly and cheaply made than metal boxes. Plastic could be seen as more sanitary than painted metal. Above all, plastic was the next new thing. The character Rambo, one of the last designs to grace the outside of a metal lunch box, was included in the exhibition. Also included in the show was a Beatles lunch box, which was the first to feature pop music performers. Annie Oakley was the first television-based lunch box designed especially for girls. Images of Hopalong Cassidy, Miss America, Roy Rogers Chow Wagon, and Star Wars were just some of the others on view.
“Lunch Box Memories” celebrated the metal lunch box’s long journey through American history, serving as both a symbol of pop culture and self-expression. Tapping into the vivid memories and childhood connections that lie inside these metal lunch boxes, the exhibition reminded visitors of yesteryear, while helping to preserve the future of these rare, classic lunch boxes.
“Lunch Box Memories” was developed and organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Behring Center, and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).
The National Heritage Museum presented more than 20 distinctive, colorful letterpress posters by Nashville’s Hatch Show Print in the exhibition, “Hatch Show Print’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Posters,” on view December 19, 2003 through June 13, 2004. Since August 1955, when long-time customer Colonel Tom Parker commissioned a Hatch Show Print poster for a concert that included Elvis Presley, the company has been central to rock and roll promotion. Best known for its retro style of design featuring woodcut images and bold type, Hatch continues to produce lively posters for all kinds of musicians ranging from Johnny Cash to Frank Zappa, Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper, and Pearl Jam, to name a few.
In 1879, brothers Charles and Herbert Hatch started their print shop in Nashville, providing short-run printing of labels, stationery and posters. When Charles’s son Will T. took over the business in 1924, the shop continued to grow as a specialty printer of posters and handbills for vaudeville, circus, and carnival and minstrel shows. Many of these posters were printed from woodblocks designed and carved by Will and his staff.
Changes in printing technology, combined with Will T.’s death in 1952, forced Hatch Show Print to scramble to provide less expensive posters by capitalizing on their vast inventory of wood type that worked well with photo plates. These smaller posters–window cards and half-sheets–provided entertainers with a bold look and colorful advertising presentation. This basic formula is still incorporated by Hatch’s staff working today.
Operated since 1992 by the non-profit Country Music Foundation, Hatch continues to take over 600 jobs annually, producing posters for a variety of performers. The original posters seen in the exhibition reveal that Hatch’s blend of old-fashioned design elements, traditional technology, and modern aesthetics still sells. A poster specially designed by Hatch to accompany the National Hertage Museum’s exhibition “Artist to Icon” is available for sale in the museum’s Heritage Shop.
Artist to Icon: Early Photographs of Elvis, Dyland and The Beatles
“Artist to Icon,” on view at the National Heritage Museum from January 31 through June 6, 2004, provided a glimpse into the lives of aspiring artists Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Bob Dylan, before they took on the role of rock ‘n’ roll legends. The exhibition included 48 rarely-seen black-and-white photographs — documented by five photographers — each seizing the moment when these individuals’ talents and styles were coming together as voices of cultural change. The photographers — Alfred Werthheimer, Astrid Kirchherr, Jurgen Vollmer, Max Scheler, and Daniel Kramer — captured the innocence, ambition, and unbounded adventure of rock ‘n’ roll’s first decade.
Photos of Elvis Presley, taken by Alfred Werthheimer in 1956, included a shot of Presley waiting with his band in the Grand Concourse of New York’s Pennsylvania station without attracting much attention. Another showed him seated inside the train, intently listening to an acetate of his revious recording session. A shirtless Presley was also pictured listening to “Don’t Be Cruel” in his parents’ living room with high-school sweetheart, Barbara Hearn.
Early shots of the Beatles included original members Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe. In the “Beatles in Hamburg” series, Astrid Kirchher captured George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, along with Best and Sutcliffe, performing to rowdy crowds in places like the Kaiserkeller Club, popular with young German existentialists. Jurgen Vollmer presented a long exposure of Lennon in a doorway and a motion-blurred McCartney, Harrison, and Sutcliffe walking by. Photographer Max Scheler captured the impact the Beatles had on post-war British youth as he spent time in Liverpool and London to capture the Beatlemania phenomenon.
Daniel Kramer was granted access to Bob Dylan during a crucial phase in his career, the summer of 1964 and 1965–the year that marked his controversial transition from acclaimed folk poet to venturesome electric rock artist. Kramer captured Dylan in an early recording session for the albumBringing it All Back Home, and backstage before a gig in Philadelphia, with road manager Victor Maymudes listening on the sidelines. Kramer watched as Dylan experimented with electric guitars, documenting the beginnings of a musical revolution.
“Artist to Icon: Early Photographs of Elvis, Dylan, and the Beatles” was been organized and developed by Experience Music Project.
Coming Up on the Season: Migrant Farmworkers in the Northeast
“Well, do you see anybody else out there picking the broccoli? No. Someone’s gotta do it, and we’re the ones.”
Behind supermarket shelves is a vast, invisible world of farmworkers who pick, bunch, wash, and pack the fresh foods we consume. A new exhibition, “Coming Up on the Season: Migrant Farmworkers in the Northeast,” at the National Heritage Museum on August 23, 2003, traced the path of the fruits and vegetables we eat, and the lives of the people who grow and harvest them in six parts of the Northeast. Oral histories, contemporary photographs, and artifacts explored a facet of our society that is rarely seen and even less understood.
“Coming Up on the Season” examined farm work done in Downeast Maine, the largest producer of wild blueberries in the nation. Further north, Aroostook County, long known for its potato fields, is becoming a leading broccoli area. Apple orchards range along Lake Ontario in western New York; onions are a major crop in the “black dirt” of the western Hudson Valley. New Jersey, once the breadbasket of the East, is still a major producer of “truck” crops such as lettuces, peppers, and cucumbers. Southeastern Massachusetts has been the center of cranberry production for 150 years.
Based on five years of fieldwork and documentation, “Coming Up on the Season,” developed by the Cornell University Migrant Program, revealed that even in our mechanized world, having fresh, unblemished produce still means farmworkers have to handle the food by hand. The Northeast grows much of the nation’s fare, and in no other region do migrants make up such a large part of the workforce that produces it. Excerpts from oral histories with workers and growers, combined with contemporary photography by Drew Harty, provided compelling views of the world of farmworkers today. Historic photographs, including several taken by photographers for the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and 1940s, helped visitors understand the historical forces that have shaped farm work. The project team collected artifacts rarely seen in museum exhibitions including tools such as broccoli knives and blueberry rakes. Also on view were paintings by students in a Migrant Education Program including Row Harvest, a large-scale painting by former migrant worker Juan Cavasos.
“Coming Up on the Season” was fully bilingual in English and Spanish. There was a section where photographs and objects from Mexico helped explore the world that workers leave behind and their aspirations for their families and communities. Interactive sections explored weight, pay, and the trip north to America. A family gallery guide engaged audiences of all ages to explored ideas about food, family and community, while a special section explored growing up as a child in a migrant family. The exhibition ended with a video wall entitled “Voices of the Harvest” where growers and workers shared their viewpoints.
The Cornell Migrant Program is a unit of the Department of Human Development, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Support for this exhibition was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, Newman’s Own and Pioneer Media Technology.
The sizzle of electricity, the clack of flashing lights, and colors that “outshine the sunshine”– “New England Neon” was on view at the National Heritage Museum, April 12 through September 16, 2003. Born of a marriage between advertising and science, neon signs have long enlivened New England streets. “New England Neon,” featured over twenty neon signs from the 1920s through the 1970s–some as long as 18 feet and as high as 12 feet–as well as materials related to how the signs were made and sold. The exhibition introduced visitors to the colorful history of neon signs, from the heady days of their first introduction to Boston byways to the boom times of the late 1940s and 1950s, when businessmen across the region advertised with bright and distinctive beacons of commerce.
“New England Neon” was drawn from the local collection of Dave and Lynn Waller. The signs on view represented more than 30 years of collecting. Digging in dumpsters, dangerous crane work, and scrounging for scraps were some of the ways the Wallers collected the pieces on display. Driven by an abiding interest in antique neon, the Wallers devoted time and energy to gathering and preserving huge metal and glass signs that many might shy away from. “Sometimes trash is treasure,” said Dave Waller, “and I have actually pulled a number of signs right out of the dump. But these are important relics of a bygone age, and I think worth preserving. It often happens when someone sees our collection, an old sign invokes a memory that was long forgotten. They have magic.”
Local visitors to the Museum were able to see the brilliant colors and animated rocket ship of the “Flying Yankee Restaurant” sign that drew patrons to the restaurant of the same name in Auburn, Massachusetts, for more than 40 years. This creation, made in 1953 by Anthony Hmura of Worcester’s Leader Signs, added sparkle to the Museum’s exterior during the run of the show.