Ancient Mysteries of Rosicrucian Park
The San Jose attraction includes the Egyptian Museum and forthcoming Alchemy Museum
In a quiet San Jose neighborhood, not far from the offices of high-tech titans like Cisco and Adobe Systems, you can find curious travelers gazing at Egyptian antiquities and the tools of medieval alchemists. Those are some of the sights at Rosicrucian Park, a five-acre property that includes the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum as well as a planetarium, research library, labyrinth, Peace Garden, Alchemy Garden, and soon, an Alchemy Museum.
The park also serves as the headquarters of the English Grand Lodge for the Americas of the Rosicrucian Order, known more formally as the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC). The lodge’s jurisdiction covers English-speaking people in the Americas.
AMORC describes itself as a “philosophical and initiatic tradition” that “has its roots in the mystery traditions, philosophy, and myths of Ancient Egypt.” AMORC founder Harvey Spencer Lewis (1883-1939) was a collector of antiquities, and opened the organization's first Egyptian museum in 1928 to put them on public display. Today, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum claims to have “the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts on exhibit in western North America.”
The building also houses a gallery of alchemy artifacts, which is set to move to a new museum in the current RCUI Building. When it opens, the Alchemy Museum will be the world’s largest of its kind, the order says.
The planetarium, built in 1936, was the fifth to open in the United States.
Most of Rosicrucian Park is open to the public, and the Egyptian Museum is a popular destination for tourists, locals and school field trips. It has four main sections: “Afterlife,” “Daily Life,” “Religion,” and “Rulers,” plus a large walk-through replica of an underground rock-cut tomb from the period 2066 to 1650 BCE. The collection includes mummies of humans and animals; statues of gods and rulers; and many objects of daily life. The website features a searchable database of the collection and 360-degree virtual tours of each section.
The Alchemy gallery includes an Alchemist’s Workshop and exhibits showing the seven steps of “alchemical transformation”: Calcination, Dissolution, Separation, Conjunction, Fermentation, Distillation and Coagulation.
The Rosicrucian Research Library, located in a separate building, houses a Rare Books Room with volumes from as early as the 16th century. They include a 1718 edition of Sir Isaac Newton’s Opticks and a 1622 edition of Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum or A Natural History. Another display case has a ceremonial collar “worn by Napoleon [Bonaparte] while Master of a Rosicrucian lodge in Paris,” the order says.
The Egyptian Museum is open daily except for Mondays and Tuesdays. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for students and seniors (55 and older) and $5 for kids 5 to 9. The Planetarium has free shows every day at 2 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 3:30 p.m. The Research Library is open by appointment. The park itself, including the labyrinth and Peace Garden, is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset. Admission is free.
Rosicrucian Park is located at 1660 Park Avenue, San Jose, CA 95191.
Check out the gallery for photos from the museum and other attractions in Rosicrucian Park.
This is Part Two of our "Steampunk Tour of Silicon Valley." Part One looks at other attractions in San Jose.
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