Mystery And Benevolence

Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art from the Kendra and Allan Daniel Collection

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Discover the mysterious and iconic art and objects from the golden age of America's secret societies.  

Created by the American Folk Art Museum in New York City, the exhibition explores the fascinating symbolism and imagery associated with Masonic and Odd Fellows folk art.

The Masons and Odd Fellows trace their roots back to European trade guilds from the 1100s and 1200s and came to America by the 1700s. By the early 1900s, Free Masonry and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows had reached a popularity where it is estimated one in five men belonged to one of the secret societies. Both were formed as benevolent groups to better their communities through the charitable support of orphans, the sick, and the poor. Over the last 300 years, the symbolism and imagery of these secret societies has fascinated and influenced American culture.

Come discover how the secretive iconography communicates the ideals of fellowship, labor, charity, passage, and wisdom — the core tenants of fraternal teachings. Whether you know the secret handshakes or not, the amazing artworks found in the exhibition are certain to enlighten and enchant you. 


The exhibition is supported in part by Joyce Berger Cowin, Kendra and Allan Daniel, the David Davies and Jack Weeden Fund for Exhibitions, the Ford Foundation, and the Leir Charitable Foundations.

The Bullock Texas State History Museum is a division of the State Preservation Board. Additional support of exhibitions and programs is provided by the Texas State History Museum Foundation.