Entering a library and going from a confusing, noisy, and hectic world to one of complete serenity, order, and calm is a strange sensation. Libraries everywhere seem to exude a peaceful aura, the impression that everyone there is looking for the same thing: knowledge through the simple enjoyment of books. The Boston Athenæum is everything a library should be, with its marble busts, shining wooden tables, chandeliers, big, red leather chairs to sink into, and of course, walls and walls of books.
The Athenæum is one of the city's oldest and most revered libraries, opening its heavy brass doors over 200 years ago, before any other American public library. The library's founders were looking to create a space containing many different elements in one, and today, it is not only a library but also a museum featuring art exhibits.
The first floor and exhibition galleries are open to the public daily; weekly Art and Architecture tours explore other floors. For the devoted book lover with some extra cash, membership provides many more amenities and adds you to the ranks of such members as John Quincy Adams and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
However, you don't need a membership to enjoy getting lost in the Athenæum for a day, anyone can make an appointment to check out the truly cool Special Collection, full of rare books and manuscripts. The Art Shows held in the Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery are free, and they are currently showcasing the work of sculptor John Storrs.
With membership at the Athenæum priced beyond many budgets, people often forget that a visit is one of the most historical, interesting and free stops you can make in Boston. For lovers of libraries and books, it is truly divine. When it's too cold for a ride on the Swan Boats or a walk through the Common, consider holing up for a bit in the venerable halls of the Athenæum.
- Monday and Wednesday: 9am to 8pm
- Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 9am to 5:30pm
- Saturday: 9am to 4pm
- Sunday: Closed
- First floor and exhibit galleries: Free
- Art and Architecture Tours: Free
- Membership for a year: $230
- Subway Stop:
- Red or Green Line to Park Street
- Location: 10 ½ Beacon Street, Boston, MA
- Phone: 617-227-0270
- Website: www.bostonathenaeum.org