The Grande Loge de France, together with the Grand Orient de France, is one of the major masonic collections in French freemasonry.
Though both of the organizations derived from the masons "Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite," the Grande Loge claims an older affiliation from the core principles that composed the first french Masonic Order founded in 1773.
For the purpose of unveiling some of the mystery that has shrouded the group, in the seventies the Grande Loge opened a part of its private collections and archives, revealing precious artifacts that constitute the splendor of masonic regalia - swords, masonic aprons, jewels, and medals, and thousands of ritual objects that were kept in secrecy for two centuries.
Being the first masonic museum in France, the MAB de la Grande Loge de France had several purposes: centralizing and preserving documents that were stolen during nazi occupation of France, and sharing the history of the Order with a larger public. By unveiling the complexity of its symbolism, it attempted to put an end to the satanic stereotypes that it once was accused of. Nowadays the museum also exhibits contemporary art installations by both initiated and uninitiated artists.
An unusual museum with an unusual story, the building itself deserves some attention as well. In 1883, Father Benigne de Janville and the Franciscan community bought the building, settled a charity in it and erected a tiny chapel a few years later. However for some unknown financial issue, the Franciscan seminary was evicted and the story turned into a ten year real estate drama.
In 1909, Brothers Bernheim eventually purchased 8 rue de Puteaux and transformed the former christian sanctuary into a cabaret. In a month, the central nave of the church became a screening room, the so-called Féeric Cinema. Beneath the cinema the crypt was used as a skating rink. After two years, the amusment establishment was sold to the Grande Loge de France who used the chapel to build its masonic temples.
Today you can access to the museum is free but the archive library is by appointment only. As part of the Musées de France association, The MAB de la Grande Loge de France usually participates every year in cultural events such as the Nuit Europeene des Musées (at the beginning of spring) or Les Journée du Patrimoire (end of September), twice a year opening the doors of its elaborate temples and offering the public a glimpse into the secretive society.