The planned move of the Cultural Masonic Centre from The Hague has (fortunately) been postponed!
As mentioned earlier on this blog, the Order of Freemasons under the Grand East of the Netherlands is planning to move its offices and historical collections to a lodge building elsewhere in the Netherlands. This plan has caused concerns in both masonic and academic circles. Not only because this would sever the nearly 300-year old cultural and historical ties between the collections and The Hague, but would also mean a physical separation from related museum and archive collections, as well as nearby University Chairs for the field of study. The fact that the criteria for proposals to be submitted for the new housing did not include clear guidelines to ensure professional, museum standard facilities for this internationally renowned collection, was especially worrysome.
At the yearly meeting of lodges in 2008 members voted on proposals for the new housing as submitted by delegates of various provinces. The plans from the lodges in Bilthoven and Arnhem were selected to be explored further. Since then, the Grand Lodge has studied these concepts and decided that new facts and changed circumstances were a reason to advice its members to vote against these plans in the yearly meeting of 2009. In June the plans were indeed rejected. Instead, it was decided to form a committee which will take a fresh look at the criteria for the new housing. More importantly, the committee will consider if it is really necessary to house the collection at the same location at the Order's offices, as both have very different needs.
Since the plan was first introduced, the OVN Foundation has made a plea for the cultural and historical importance of the collection, as well as the unbreakable ties with The Hague and the physical needs of this unique Dutch heritage to be the foundation of the decisions process. The OVN is therefore delighted at the news, although the postponement does not take away any of the concerns for the future of the collection. Hopefully the committee will not be limited to include the usual knowleadgable members of the Order, but will also invite independent specialists from the (profane) museum and heritage sector to provide expert advice. Perhaps then the scenario of a looming cultural disaster can still be avoided.