Join the Boston Athenaeum

Since 1807, the Boston Athenaeum has been home to curious people who love books, art, music, and knowledge of all kinds. Today the Athenaeum is still thriving as Boston’s beloved member-supported cultural center and one of the great library jewels of the world. 

All are welcome at the Athenaeum.

Enjoy all the Athenaeum has to offer

A vibrant collection of over 500,000 books, rare manuscripts, and resources in all media, from first editions to this year’s popular fiction and biographies. Book lovers, researchers, and the curious enjoy browsing the stacks or viewing original sources.

Amazing space with stunning views of historic and modern Boston, classic architecture, and inviting reading rooms and nooks for reading, work, and reflection. Our light-drenched ‘living room’ spaces offer comfy chairs, game tables, a members’ kitchenette, even private rooms for phone and video calls.

Cultural events and exhibitions: Author talks, cocktail and movie nights, concerts, lectures, and discussion groups on topics from detective novels to Shakespeare to play reading. Our dedicated gallery hosts art shows and exhibitions on artist books and the Great Boston Fire.

An ever-growing art collection that includes paintings by John Singer Sargent and Gilbert Stuart, splendid lithographs from the 1800s, and modern painting and photography.


All Athenaeum members receive

  • Member discussion and book groups
  • Thousands of ebooks and audiobooks
  • Free or reduced-price tickets to author talks, lectures, and concerts. Plus, you can bring up to three guests at the member price.
  • Discounts at Folio, the restaurant at the Athenaeum (opening soon)
  • Boston’s best work and study spaces across five beautiful floors
  • Curated recommendations of new and noteworthy reads, along with regular newsletters and holiday gift suggestions from our expert staff
  • Research support from our friendly full-time reference team
  • Online access to research databases, periodicals, and other digital resources such as JSTOR and Lexus Nexus
  • Discounted parking in the Boston Common Garage
  • Free or discounted tickets to hundreds of libraries and cultural institutions through NARM and ROAM ― from the Frick Collection in New York to the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco

Connect with people who share your passion for learning and the joy of great culture. Come to the gem in the heart of the city. Join the Boston Athenaeum.

We’d love to see you here.


Can I try out the BA before I join?

Yes, you can. We offer day memberships for $40 per day. available at the front desk,  If you enjoy your visit and want to join as a member that same day, we’ll deduct the $40 from your membership costs. Day pass information.

Can I look around for free? Can I see the 5th floor?

As a member-supported library, we do not offer free entrance, but there are multiple ways for you to enjoy the Athenaeum. We offer Arts & Exhibitions visits, public tours, and day memberships with various ticket prices. Please see our visit page for more information. 

Can I spread my membership dues over multiple payments?

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

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. 

At this time we do not offer senior discounts.

What kind of books are in the Athenæum?

Bestsellers and contemporary books, children’s books, graphic novels, 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 our online catalog, to see what’s available.

I’d like to see an item in the special collections. How do I access it?
May I bring a guest to an event or show them around the building?

Absolutely! Members are encouraged to bring guests to events. As a member, you can bring up to 3 guests per event at the member rate. 

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.

Gifts and donations will receive a gift receipt for your tax files.