The Boston Athenæum was founded in 1807, making it one of the oldest membership libraries in the country. Its holdings are especially strong in Boston and New England history, biography, English and American literature, and the fine and decorative arts. Its special collections include contemporary artists’ books, early American imprints, and a large portion of George Washington’s personal library.
Today, this historic building is a beautiful architectural destination, a circulating library, and a cultural center open to the public with rich programming every week, including lectures, book talks, children’s story times, and more. A place of reflection and refuge in the heart of the city, the Athenæum opens its landmark red doors to all.
Things to Do
- The Athenaeum's Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery and first floor displays showcase treasures from the special collections. Notable exhibits have included rare books from Venice, World War I posters, neo-classical sculpture, and the work of Edward Gorey. Admission to the first floor, including the gallery, is $10 for adults and free for children 12 and under; discounts are offered for students and the military.
- The Athenæum participates in the EBT Card to Culture program.
- Visitors can see more of the building on a popular Art & Architecture Tour,Tuesdays at 5:30pm, Thursdays at 3pm, or Saturdays at 11am. Reserve ahead of time, as these small group tours sell out quickly. The cost is $2 plus admission.
- The charming Children’s Library is open to the public every week for a Friday story time,as well as on the second Saturday of each month. Some children’s events are also open to visitors; these have included activities like winter craft-making plus talks by well-known authors.
Boston Athenaum Insider Tips
- Check out the Museum's Floor Plan before you go.
- There are electronic resources available on the Athenaeum's website. These include audio and visual material, serials, dictionaries and more specialized material.