The Relic Room: Masonic Objects
Curated by Susan L. Aberth
The Masons love their dramas—the stage and the narratives, the procession of arriving, socializing, and commanding focus. Handsome sets of documents, photographs, and Masonic paraphernalia left at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple are now preserved and presented in the renovated Masonic library.
When the Masons were forced to vacate the Wilshire Boulevard temple in 1994 (due to zoning issues) they left behind a small treasure trove of fraternal objects including books, photographs of past lodge members, and other paraphernalia, such as silk and satin banners created to identify specific lodges. Reminiscent of those used in medieval pageants and a source of fraternal pride, the banners were used both inside the lodge and, on occasion, during public spectacles. Embroidered with Masonic emblems in gold and silver braid and fringed at the bottom, they lent a festive air to ritual occasions. By far the most exciting things left behind pertained to the Masons secret theatrical performances, or rather the staging of Scottish Rite rituals, which functioned as a form of ethical instruction aimed at spiritual and moral self-improvement as one advanced through the degrees.
—Susan L. Aberth, Associate Professor of Latin American Art, Bard College