The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum got its start in the 1920s, when H. Spencer Lewis, the founder of the Rosicrucian Order, acquired a small Sekhmet (lion goddess) statue. He soon conceived of a public collection, based upon artifacts donated by the Egypt Exploration Society, whose work the Rosicrucians had supported.
Glass cases were built to display various objects related to Pharaoh Akhnaton. Later expeditions to Egypt added items from new excavations. By 1932, an entire building was needed to house the growing collection, leading to the creation of the original Rosicrucian Egyptian Oriental Museum.
When the museum's collection surpassed 2,000 items in the 1960s, a much larger, more modern museum facility was designed, based upon the tombs and ancient architecture of the Temple of Amon at Karnak. The current facility opened to the public in November 1966, set upon the grounds of surrounding Rosicrucian Park.
Today the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum collection contains over 4,000 authentic ancient Egyptian artifacts, making this the largest of its kind in Western North America. Each year more than 100,000 guests, including 26,000 school children, come here to view objects from pre-dynastic times through Egypt's early Islamic era.
The oldest item in the collection is a 1.5 million year old stone hand axe, and some of the pottery is over 6,500 years old. Among the most recent exhibits featured here are: Burial Practice, Afterlife, and Mummies; Gods and Religion; Kings and Pharaohs; and Daily Life, Trade, and Neighbors. Displays are changed and refreshed frequently, and new exhibits, tours, and workshops are scheduled throughout the year.
Adjacent to the museum proper is the Planetarium, which offers shows daily at 2pm with additional 3:30pm performances on Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is free, and complimentary tickets can be picked up at the museum admissions desk. The museum also has a research library that is open to the public, along with a Rosicrucian temple used for group meditation.
The Museum Store is filled with educational items related to Egypt, from books, CDs, and DVDs to replica statues, jewelry, and gift items. Of special interest is "Treasures of the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum,'' a catalog of more than 260 color images of artifacts in the collection. Store operating hours are 9am to 4pm on weekdays and 11am to 5:30pm on weekends.
The official museum hours are 9am to 5pm on Monday through Friday and 11am to 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays. General admission costs $9 for adults, $7 for students and seniors aged 55 years and older, and $5 for children aged 5~10. Children under five are free of charge. No admittance is permitted within a half hour of closing, and the museum is closed on certain holidays: New Years Day, Easter Sunday, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Years Eve.
The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is located at 1664 Park Avenue, San Jose, California 95191. It can be reached via public transportation on VTA Bus Routes 36, 62, and 81. The stop is Rosicrucian Park. By car from Interstate 880 North, get off at the Alameda Exit and turn right. Follow Alameda to the second stoplight and turn right onto Naglee. Continue one block to the corner of Chapman, and the museum parking lot is on the left in Rosicrucian Park. Parking is free, and posted signs show the way through the park to the museum.