The large white marble structure houses a large library, several museums, special exhibits, the administrative offices of the Grand Lodge of Iowa AF & AM, the Linn County Genealogy Society and the Linn County Medical Society.
In 1884 the first Masonic library building anywhere in the world was opened to the public in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The building was supposed to last one hundred years, but nobody predicted the impact a building would have on the collections which grew so quickly that the building housing them proved too small and crowded. Thus, in 1952, the old library was demolished and the current marble building opened on the same site in 1955.
Today the Iowa Masonic Library is regarded as one of the best facilities in the world to perform Masonic research. The Library houses over 150,000 volumes of which thousands are rare Masonic books for the serious researcher, and a circulating collection for the casual reader. The Library also collects materials dealing with non-Masonic topics. The Iowa collection contains materials dealing with Iowa history, government, education, social history, religion, etc. In addition the Library boasts a number of volumes on spirituality, religion, philosophy, history, literature, and biography. Included are several special collections including: A.E. Waite Collection of esoteric and occult science, Dr. Arthur W. Erskine Collection of original papers and materials in the field of X-ray technology, Joseph A. Walkes Collection of Prince Hall Masonry and the Harvey Collection of Landscape Architecture.
The library building also contains several museums. The Library’s Masonic Museum houses Masonic decorative arts, regalia, equipment, artifacts, medallions and jewels from around the world, a collection of Lincoln memorabilia, and a civil war battle flag. There is also a three-paneled painting entitled, “The First Three Degrees of Freemasonry” the only known Masonic painting of Iowa artist Grant Wood, a member of Mount Hermon Lodge No. 263 of Cedar Rapids. The General Museum houses thousands of artifacts dealing with general history. From Babylonian tablets and ancient Egyptian tomb art to historic military items and pioneer collections. Other highlights include Native American antiquities, Japanese samurai armor, decorative arts, and wood carvings by local Czech folk artist John J. Stodola. The Swab Room contains a collection of porcelains, statuettes, vases, jewelry and other fine art from around the world collected in the early 20th century.
Iowa Masonic Library and Museums
Photos of the facility and collections in the Iowa Masonic Library and Museums