Lovers of learning, as extolled in Masonic degrees, appreciate and learn from the past and ponder the questions of the present. Perhaps, best of all, they project into the future and try to anticipate its needs. They pursue excellence.

Learning can take place best in an unhurried and calm environment. Where better to find such an environment than in libraries and museums? They are havens for the harried. But, do not equate "haven" with stiffness and silence. Libraries and museums are often bright, busy places ­ but they still are havens from the harsher world outside. People who use libraries ­ and better yet, those who are at home in them ­ usually have a balanced outlook on life because they have learned to slow down and think.

Any library will do for learning; however, the Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania is tailor-made for anyone interested in Freemasonry, history, philosophy, religion, and works of art. The collections have items dating from pre-Revolutionary times to the present; books, objects, paintings, regalia, and much more from which to learn. Where else can one see Washington's Masonic apron (below) and read a letter written by him? Where can one also borrow a book, video tape, or recording and search the internet for more information ­ all in one place?

Masons, and the public from far and wide, have been very surprised to find that The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania is an outstanding resource. For instance, they previously had no idea that works of art by C. W. Peale and William Rush are there. They learn that they can find information on building materials, such as iron or granite, research an extensive collection and examples of many styles of architecture. There are biographies of well-known Masons, including Wolfgang Mozart, John Philip Sousa, Douglas MacArthur, John Marshall, Red Skelton, and many, many others. The opportunity to begin or extend a research project or just enjoy learning takes place in the Library and Museum supported by its extensive archives.

Answering questions posed by Masons and the public is a very important aspect of The Library and Museum. Hundreds of questions are answered by telephone, e-mail, letter and in person each year. Each time a patron has learned something with the help of the collection of The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania, another person's life has been enhanced ­ taken another step in the pursuit of excellence.