Smaller libraries and Masonic collections have existed across the State of Michigan since the earliest days of Masonry in Michigan. The topic of a statewide masonic library was discussed over the years, but it wasn't until the formation, in 1980, of the Masonic Foundation of Michigan, Inc. (later the Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation) did the specific mission of establishing a Museum and Library begin to take shape.
Early elements of the Museum and Library collection were first housed at the Michigan Masonic Home (later Masonic Pathways in Alma). In 1996, a formal budget for the Museum and Library was established and the search to hire a Masonic Librarian was initiated.
In 2000, the Museum and Library was moved to its present home in the Grand Rapids Masonic Center. The Alma collection, composed largely of books from the estate of the Masonic author James Fairbairn Smith, was combined with a large collection maintained in the Grand Rapids Center by Charles P. Sheffield. Our current fulltime Director, John Wallsteadt, was hired in 2001.
Since the move to Grand Rapids we have continued to grow both the museum artifact collection and the book holdings of the library. We are particularly interested in preserving masonic items that might otherwise be lost through lodge consolidations or the passing of members.
The Museum and Library is funded almost entirely by the Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation and the Masons of the State of Michigan. The facility is open to the public and is both a museum display space and an active lending library with over 8,000 volumes. Library staff is available to assist with research and make presentations to Masonic and non-Masonic audiences.