Two visits to the Grand Lodge of California in San Francisco within a few days warrents a post. NB: I had assumed that lodges meet there, but no. The building is used solely for public events in the auditorium, as well as exhibitions, or administrative purposes. (Although the Grand Lodge convenes in the auditorium and a lodge is set up on the stage.) The sun and moon motives are from the impressive glass panes in the hall.
First, there was the Rufus Wainwright concert last Friday. A Fine Frenzy and Sean Lennon were opening acts, and Sean, who has a really dry sense of humour, not unlike his old man, commented that being in the Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium was like being interrogated by God! (because of how it is designed). He also made a crack about it being Masonic, saying “Welcome to our secret meeting!” Rufus commented on the design by saying it felt like he was standing before the UN, giving testimony about some horrible war crime … “in song!”, as he added coyly. From my perspective, on the balcony, it was more like a sports arena — with the stage brought out into the room, and a lot of room between the seating sections, which meant that people could easily come and go (and they did). From that point of view the concert experience was better in the Opera back in Copenhagen a month before, but the sound was okay, Rufus was on form, and at the end of the show, Sean got back on and joined Rufus on ‘Across the Universe’, so there was a bit of a moment there. Plus it was fun just experiencing the hall being used for a (profane) cultural event.
Then, yesterday I visited the Sacking the Temple-exhibition. I have previously linked to two other reviews (by Br. Erik and Masonic Traveler) and I don’t have that much to add. I liked the care that had been taken in bringing out some choice effects and explaining what was on display, so that it could be appreciated by Masons and “civilians” alike, rather than just having endless cases of aprons or China lined up. (There is a large exhibition area below ground level, but it is being used for commercial purposes nowadays.) In addition to the current exhibition there were also some other items, and I particularly liked the charred working tools from the San Francisco Fire in 1906 – very moving! I think the entry hall at Freemasons Hall in Copenhagen could easily be used for the same purpose: A few glass cabinets displaying a specific aspect of freemasonry to the general public. And Copenhagen has even more effects to choose from: 11,500 pieces makes it one of the most serious Masonic museums in the world (no offense to California!).
I will definitely be back: A new, traveling exhibition, The Initiated Eye, opens next week on the Masonic influence on architecture in Washington, DC.