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Working on the Grand Master Portraits at the New Mexico Grand Lodge


RWB Gary Baker taking down a portrait of one of our 19th Century Grand Masters.

A great project is underway at the Grand Lodge Library & Museum!

RW Gary Baker, SGD, and WB Tyler Anderson (PM, SML72) have been working for a couple of weeks on a project to offer some first aid to the portraits of the Past Grand Masters which line the walls of the entry and the library.

The portraits are being taken down, unframed, scanned, condition-reported, reframed, and returned to the walls.

The project has several purposes. First, the Past Grand Master portraits have been generally inaccessible except to see them on the walls. Scanning the portraits allows for them to be used in historical research, lodge presentations, to be reproduced at the home lodges of the Grand Masters, as well as in displays at Grand Lodge (or any) meetings, for the enjoyment of all. As the work progresses, RW Baker is going through the .tiff image scans and producing a slideshow, adding in the dates on which the individual Grand Masters were elected.

Additionally, getting in there and examining them for condition allows us to act to preserve them. The Grand Lodge of New Mexico was established in 1877, and the portraits date from that year and coming forward, year by year. Some of the earliest images (but not all) are themselves already reproductions—at the moment we do not know what happened to the originals, they may be stashed somewhere. (Or they may have been destroyed in The Fire of 1967. See the Albuquerque Journal: Page 1 and Page 2) Starting around the turn of the 20th Century, the photos are all the originals.

The materials with which they have been mounted and framed are acidic and problematic. Quite literally, the photos are being slowly consumed by the materials in which they are mounted. (This is the common state of historical photography. Acid-free materials are a much newer idea, and to this day most mat board used in frame shops is the “bad” stuff.) The hope is that there will be some small money in future budgets to address these issues, and Brothers Baker and Anderson are formulating strategies to achieve this at the lowest costs possible, with maximum benefit.

If you haven’t been to the Grand Lodge to see the library and museum, swing by some time. There are some very interesting things there, well in addition to our Grand Master portraits. WB Anderson can give a bit of a tour if you so desire!


Many of the photos have significant condition issues. At some point in the last 75 years, this one was apparently ripped off of a board mounting and taped into its window mat with masking tape.


Many of the mats and windows have water damage—probably from the 1967 fire which destroyed the old Temple 6 and Grand Lodge offices. Luckily (so far) none of the photos themselves have the same water damage!


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