- For Members
Welcome to the Boston Athenæum!
The Boston Athenæum, a membership library, first opened its doors in 1807, and its rich history as a library and cultural institution has been well documented in the annals of Boston’s cultural life. Today, it remains a vibrant and active institution that serves a wide variety of members and scholars. With more than 600,000 titles in its book collection, the Boston Athenæum functions as a public library for many of its members, with a large and distinguished circulating collection, a newspaper and magazine reading room, quiet spaces and rooms for reading and researching, a children’s library, and wireless Internet access throughout its building.
The Special Collections resources are world-renowned, and include maps, manuscripts, rare books, prints & photographs, paintings & sculpture, and archival materials. Many of our unique holdings are available online in our digital collections. Our Conservation Laboratory works to preserve all our collections on paper. The library mounts exhibitions in the institution's Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery, rotating selections in the Recent Acquisitions Gallery, and a number of less formal installations in places and cases around the building. Other activities for members and the public include lectures, panel discussions, poetry readings, musical performances, films, and special events, many of which are followed by receptions. Members are able to take advantage of our second- and fifth-floor terraces during fine weather, and to search electronic databases from their homes and offices.
The mission of the Boston Athenæum is to serve its members, the broader community, and scholars throughout the world by preserving and augmenting its collections of books and art, by providing library services and cultural programs, and by preserving and enhancing the unique atmosphere of its landmark building. This newly redesigned website is part of our effort to support that mission, and to welcome old and new friends to discover or rediscover one of Boston’s most venerable cultural institutions.
The Trustees and staff members encourage you to navigate our website, and to forward any questions, suggestions, or comments about our collections, activities, or exhibitions. You are welcome to visit us virtually, come into the building for exhibitions or for a pre-scheduled tour, or to become a member.