Masonic Library and Museum, Cedar Rapids

4.7
The Iowa Masonic Library and Museum, located at 813 First Ave. SE, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States, is one of the largest Masonic libraries in the world, and incorporates at least three museum collections. The library was the first, world-wide, to have its own building (constructed in 1884). Its current building (constructed in 1955) also houses the administrative offices for the Grand Lodge of Iowa, one of the governing bodies for Freemasonry in Iowa.
The Library had its genesis in the 1840s, with a resolution by the Grand Lodge allocating funds to the Grand Secretary to purchase books on the topic of Freemasonry. In its earliest years the Library was located at the residence of Theodore S. Parvin, the first Grand Librarian, who started it with 5 books purchased for $5. It moved with him from Muscatine to Iowa City, to Davenport, then back to Iowa City where it was maintained until its final transfer to a more permanent home in Cedar Rapids in 1884. It has remained in Cedar Rapids ever since. The Masonic Library is now "reputed to be the largest in the world, and is at least one of the top five, with over 100,000 volumes. Both Masonic and general books are included in the collections and the library is open to anyone, whether Masons or not."
The extensiveness and public access of the Masonic library is valuable. For example, Professor David Hackett of the University of Florida notes that "a fairly large...public collection of Prince Hall materials can be found at the Iowa Masonic Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa." Likewise, Stephen Kantrowitz of the University of Wisconsin-Madison historian notes "Substantial collections of published black Masonic proceedings (which appear in significant numbers only from the 1870s on), pamphlets, and other publications are available at Masonic libraries, including the National Heritage Museum (Lexington, Mass.), the Livingston Library (New York, N.Y.), and the Iowa Masonic Library (Cedar Falls)." The library was the location in 2008 of the Masonic Library and Museum Association (MLMA) annual meeting, 80 years after a similar meeting in Cedar Rapids at the original Masonic Library.
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Masonic Library and Museum Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
16 reviews
Google
4.4
TripAdvisor
  • Its an interesting, funky little museum. I gather that most of the collection was donated by Iowa members. There was an interesting selection of Native American artifacts with items I have never seen ...  more »
  • Accompanied by a guide we toured the Masonic Library and Museum. He was kind to explain to us a lot of things and it was interesting to see how many valuable objects are collected there, from Masons w...  more »
Google
  • Fine collection of books and historic artifacts.
  • A great collection of books & other information that you will not find anywhere else.

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