Last updated: 5/31/2021
10½ Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108
|Monday - Thursday||9 AM - 8 PM|
|Friday - Saturday||9 AM - 5 PM|
The mission of the Boston Athenæum is to engage all who seek knowledge by making accessible our library’s collections and spaces, thereby inspiring reflection, discourse, creative expression, and joy.
Founded in 1807, the Boston Athenæum is one of the most distinguished independent libraries and cultural institutions in the United States.
The new Athenæum flourished in culture-starved Boston and, as it voraciously acquired books, art, and artifacts, it grew rapidly. In 1827, it added an Art Gallery and began a series of yearly exhibitions of American and European art. For nearly half a century the Athenæum was the unchallenged center of intellectual life in Boston, and by 1851, had become one of the largest libraries in the United States.
Today its collections comprise over half a million volumes, with particular strengths in Boston history, New England state and local history, biography, English and American literature, and the fine and decorative arts. The Athenæum supports a dynamic exhibition program and sponsors a lively variety of events such as lectures and concerts. It also serves as a stimulating center for discussions among scholars, bibliophiles, and a variety of community-interest groups
Reference librarians and the main reference collection are located on the second floor of the Athenæum. We are happy to assist members whether researching an extensive scholarly project, learning how to use Athena, (the Athenæum's online catalog), curious about an obscure fact, or looking for a cozy mystery to read over the weekend.
The Circulation Desk at the Boston Athenæum is located on the first floor, just beyond the Security Desk. Here members may check out and return books, reserve books, sign up for Art & Architecture Tours or meet for New Member Tours, and ask for help finding books. Gift shop items may also be purchased at the Circulation Desk.
Access: General Public, Students, Scholars, Members
Appointment required: No
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