By Melissa Locker
September 09, 2015
© Ryan McGinnis / Alamy Stock Photo

Perhaps best known as home to steaks and Cornhuskers, Nebraska also has a long history of something a bit more intriguing: Freemasonry. And to celebrate 158 years of the secretive fraternal organization in Nebraska, a brand new Masonic Museum and Research Library opened last weekend in Lincoln.

The cultural center is housed inside the Masonic Grand Lodge building, but not to worry, there are no sacred rites or secret rituals required to gain entry. Simply making an appointment will suffice to visit the collection.

Once inside, visitors can explore over 2,000 books on spiritual and historical subjects, art, and relics collected by the fraternal organization, as well as historical artifacts donated by Masons over the years. Highlights include exhibits like a 3,000-year-old wooden setting maul or hammer from an Egyptian tomb, a display of ancient weapons like a halberd, which is a seemingly lethal combination of a battle-ax and spear, and a guide to Omaha's Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition of 1898.

There’s also a special exhibition on the history of Prince Hall Masonry, a branch of the secret order that is predominantly African-American.

The collection was formerly housed in a smaller building in Lincoln, but now that it has moved into its new digs, the museum has room to grow, and hopes to add to its collection through donations from Masons throughout the state.

No plans to visit Lincoln? There are other Masonic Museums and Libraries across the United States, including one in Lexington, MA, a branch in New York City, a museum in Phoenix, and, naturally, one in Virginia, home to George Washington, president and Mason