George Washington's Inaugural Bible on display for two days at Historic Arkansas Museum. (Photo: Historic Arkansas Museum)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Historic Arkansas Museum is proud to announce that George Washington's Inaugural Bible will be on exhibit at the museum during 2nd Friday Art Night on Friday, February 8, 5 - 8 pm; and on Saturday, February 9, 9 am to 5 pm.
The bible is part of the museum's upcoming exhibit, Treasures of Arkansas Freemasons, 1838 - 2013, on exhibit February 8 through July 12, 2013, in the museum's Study Gallery.
The exhibit correlates with the 175th anniversary of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Arkansas, in downtown Little Rock and also features George Washington's Family Bible which will be on display for the entire length of the exhibit. Admission to the exhibit is free.
"The museum is delighted to have the opportunity to exhibit two rare bibles closely associated with America's preeminent Mason of the colonial era, and our nation's first president-George Washington," said Historic Arkansas Museum Deputy Director and Chief Curator Swannee Bennett.
George Washington's Inaugural Bible is on loan from St. John's Lodge, No. 1. In New York on April 30, 1789, George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States. When it was discovered that a bible had not been arranged for, one was provided by a Mason in attendance. The bible Washington used came from nearby St. John's Lodge No. 1, Ancient York Masons-and they have preserved it ever since. George Washington's Inaugural Bible has been used in the inaugural ceremonies of Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush. George W. Bush planned to use the bible for his inauguration but was unable to due to inclement weather.
The George Washington Family Bible is on loan from the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, VA. It contains Washington's signature and notes written in his hand. George Washington was a life-long Mason, having joined as a young man. He was later asked to be Charter Master of Alexandria Lodge No. 2. renamed after his death Alexandria-Washington Lodge. The Lodge was the recipient of many of Washington's personal possessions, including this family bible. The George Washington Masonic Memorial is now the repository of many of the Alexandria-Washington Lodge's artifacts.
"Freemasonry has been described as a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols, the goal of which is to take good men and make them better men," guest curator Dick Browning wrote for the Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Along with the George Washington bibles, Arkansas treasures often imbued with the symbolism of freemasonry will be on exhibit, including, masonic aprons and jewels, ceremonial trowels, gavels, a ballot box and the chair of Arkansas's most famous Freemason, Albert Pike.
Historic Arkansas Museum is open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 1 - 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission to the galleries and parking are free; tours of historic grounds are $2.50 for adults, $1 for children under 18, $1.50 for senior citizens. The Historic Arkansas Museum Store is open 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 1 - 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Historic Arkansas Museum is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, which was created in 1975 to preserve and enhance the heritage of the state of Arkansas. Other agencies of the department are Delta Cultural Center in Helena, Arkansas Arts Council, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and Old State House Museum.
(Source: Historic Arkansas Museum)