Since it opened in 1807, the Boston Athenaeum (BA) has been a major force in Boston’s rich cultural and intellectual life. Modeled after similar institutions in Liverpool in Great Britain, it is an independent membership library, with a collection of over 600,000 volumes available to its members and ample space for research. Membership is the best way to enjoy all that the BA has to offer; only the first floor and exhibition galleries are open to the general public, and many special events are members-only.
BA’s Special Collections department contains a multitude of maps, manuscripts, rare books and archival materials, with a Conservation Department dedicated to their preservation. The attached Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery features three exhibitions of artwork annually, open to the public for a small suggested donation; additional works of art are featured in smaller exhibitions throughout the building. BA programs a wide variety of special events, available to members and (in select cases) the general public, including poetry readings, musical performances, film screenings, lectures and gatherings for civic discourse.
Boston Athenaeum Information
- Public Transportation: Good (a 4-minute walk from subway Green and Red Lines, and buses 43 and 55 at the Park Street Station)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Performances/Programs: Approximately 100 events annually, including concerts, lectures, poetry readings and more
- Ticket Prices: Most events are free to the public; some events are open to members only, with an entry price of $15
- Membership: Individual annual membership is $230; benefits include admission to members-only events, as well as all areas of the Athenaeum. Only the first floor and exhibition galleries are open to the public.