Join the Boston Athenæum

Members enjoy access to a library rich with books, art, exceptional architecture, and vibrant events.

Benefits include:

  • Read, reflect and explore the grand reading rooms, intimate alcoves, and comfy chairs. 
  • First notice of Boston Athenaeum events, and discounted or free tickets for events.
  • Join one of our discussion groups to dive deeper into a topic, genre, or writer.
  • Enjoy a 15% discount off food at Folio. (Alcoholic beverages not included.)
  • Study, read, work, or create in one of the most iconic and beautiful spaces in downtown Boston. 
  • Pop by for a book or settle in for the day.
  • Step into inspiration, surrounded by historic works of art, thousands of books, and a community of readers.
  • Pick out a new novel or let our librarians find just what you need.
  • Sit in on a book talk about the latest release or view the current exhibition with new friends. 
  • Meet with a member of the staff to support your research project, piece of writing, or pure curiosity.
  • Dive into dozens of specialized research tools and archives to find the article you want, the research you need or discover something new. LexisNexis, JSTOR, Art Full Text and much, much more.
  • Discounted parking at the Boston Common Garage on nights and weekends.
  • Enjoy reciprocal privileges including free or discounted admission at 1200+ cultural institutions in North America via the NARM and ROAM networks.


Can I try out the BA before I join?

Yes, you can. We offer day passes for $40 per day, available at our front desk. If you enjoy your visit and want to join as a member that same day, we’ll deduct the fee from your membership costs. More details here.

If you’re considering joining but don’t wish to purchase a day pass, we can arrange a prospective member conversation with one of our dedicated membership staff. Please contact 617-720-7604 or to make schedule a time.

Can I split my membership dues over multiple payments?

Yes! A membership at the Athenæum is an annual commitment, but we offer the ability to split the membership cost over 12 monthly payments. 

What kind of books are in the Athenæum?

Bestsellers and contemporary books, children’s books, rare books, prints, maps, reference material, newspapers, periodicals, and more. Our collections consist of more than 600,000 volumes in our circulating, reference and special collections, and we are constantly adding new things. Search Athena, our online catalog, to see what’s available at any given time.

Do you offer student or senior discounts?

Young individual or family memberships are available up to the age of 40, after which regular membership fees apply. We welcome students and young professionals to join in our community and are confident our spaces and resources will become invaluable. 

I’d like to see an item in the special collections. How do I access it?

Make an appointment for access to rare books, manuscripts, prints, and photographs. Additionally, there are special collections orientations on the first Monday of many months; please see the calendar for upcoming events.

May I bring a guest to an event or show them around the building?

Absolutely! Members are encouraged to bring guests into the Athenæum or to our events to introduce them to our wonderful community. We allow up to 3 guests at a time and we ask that guests be registered at our front desk. 

Can I see the 5th Floor ?

Visitors are welcome to visit all floors of the Athenæum with the purchase of a Day Pass. Click here to purchase! 

Can I come in and look around for free? 

As a member-supported library, we do not offer free entrance, but there are multiple ways for you to enjoy the Athenæum. We offer first-floor visits, public tours or day passes with various ticket types. Please see our visit page for more information. 

I lost my card, how do I get a replacement? 
Are my membership dues tax deductible?

Membership is considered a “good or service” by the IRS, and therefore is not tax-deductible. Only gifts and donations will receive a gift receipt for your tax files.