Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and Planetarium
Initially created by the founder of the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, Dr. H. Spencer Lewis, in 1927, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum now houses the largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts in western North America. Located in San Jose’s Rosicrucian Park, the museum is centered around four gallery themes: Burial Practices, Afterlife and Mummies; Gods and Religion; Kings and Pharaohs; and Daily Life, Trade and Neighbors. It is also home to a composite replica of an ancient Egyptian rock-cut tomb.
Backstory and Context
Lewis’ museum began with a single statue of Sekhmet (lion goddess) sitting on his desk and quickly expanded from there. An avid collector of Egyptian artifacts, he contributed to archaeological digs in Egypt and, in return, received additions to his collection which swelled to over 2,000 items by 1932. As a result, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Oriental Museum was built that same year and the collection continued to expand. Spencer’s son, Ralph, then had the current museum built in 1966.
Contained within the museum’s collection are four authentic Egyptian mummies, numerous Egyptian statues made of a variety of materials, artwork, jewelry, clothing, and cuneiform tablets. Within the replica tomb is a sarcophagus and wall paintings that depict the owner’s daily life, activities, his meeting with various gods and goddesses and his ultimate acceptance into the afterlife.
The museum offers daily guided tours when open and it is also home to the Rosicrucian Alchemy Museum and a Junior Archeologist Program. The planetarium, which was one of the earliest built in the United States, shows its Journey to the Stars program every weekday at 2:00 and offers other programs during weekends. The museum has also made an MP3 audio program available for download for self-guided tours.