04.10.2024

Finding quiet in heart of Boston with Charlie Grantham

An interview with Charlie Grantham, a member since 2023.

What drew you to become a member of the Athenaeum?

Charlie Grantham: I came here on Community Day. I had never heard of the Athenaeum, but it came up on my Instagram algorithm as something free to do in Boston and I thought it looked cool. I had no idea how big it was! I think we were only about twenty minutes into walking around, and I turned to my husband and said, “I have to become a member.” I feel so inspired when I’m here. I have told so many people this, but I get my work done better. It’s like time stands still when I’m here and the world goes quiet.

What’s your favorite spot in the building?

CG: My go-to spot is on the fourth floor right outside the Trustees’ Room — not the tables by the window, but one of the tables hidden behind the bookshelves.

What are you working on at the Athenaeum currently? What do you bring with you to work on?

CG: I’m a photographer, so I edit my photos here. I also work on my website, study, and have meetings. Usually, I try to get here right at nine. I like to get my spot and get cozy. If I can sit here all day, that’s my favorite because I get so much done, but I’ll switch up my spots, too.

How has the Athenaeum helped support your interests? Is there anything you’ve discovered here that you’d want to share? 

CG: I’m very interested in the photography collection here — I was drawn to the Developing Boston exhibition. Being in a place surrounded by art inspires me — It’s wonderful being exposed every day to the photographs, paintings, and sculptures.

What’s your favorite perk of being a member of the Athenaeum?

CG: The Athenaeum gives members a space to have quiet and to have stillness, which I think is really rare in today’s world. That’s a big draw for me, and it’s hard to find that in other places in the city.

If any, what fictional character or historical figure would you expect to find in the Athenaeum? 

CG: I have two: One is Louisa May Alcott – I know she was a member here and that was another thing that drew me to membership. I also think this one’s a little silly but Belle from Beauty and the Beast. She would live here!

Learn more about membership.

12.06.2023

Jenn Pellecchia’s journey from discovery to community

Jenn standing next to window that looks out on the Granary Burial ground.

Excerpts from an interview with Jenn Pellecchia, member since 2010

What drew you to become a member of the BA?

Jenn: I found out about it through Wikipedia.  I think I was looking at the page for John Adams or John Quincy Adams, that’s how I found out they were both members. I thought, there’s no way this still exists, but there was a link to the website, and I saw that it was a member library that anyone could join. I showed it to my husband and was like, we have to do this. 

What’s your favorite spot in the building?

Jenn: I love to browse the new books. It’s so nice to not have to be in a huge queue and reserve everything, just to be able to browse, like a bookstore, but not have to pay for anything. And when I actually need to get some work done I like to go to the basement, especially in the summer. It’s really nice and cool, and if I want to take a break, I can check out the art books. And the views are great down there. It’s a nice, quiet place.

What are you working on at the BA currently? What do you bring with you to work on? Do you work, or do more reading?

Jenn: I like to do both, work and read. This is a great place to try to get stuff done. I work from home, and my discipline there kind of varies, but I’m a bookbinder and a book conservator, so this is a great place just to be. 

How has the BA helped support your interests? Is there anything you’ve discovered here that you’d want to share? 

Jenn: I discovered book conservation as a career! Through a lot of the exhibitions I’ve learned about other bookbinders and book artists. It’s great that Special Collections is buying from current artists and has an interest in contemporary book artists and bookbinders. I’m discovering people all the time, and even older works from people I actually know or have heard of. 

And also it’s fun to have people you can talk about things with. You know, it’s great to just ask John [Buchtel, Athenaeum Director of Special Collections], “Are you shopping, what are you excited about, what have you acquired?” and then being able to make an appointment and go look at stuff. I’ve been able to do a lot of learning that way. 

What’s your favorite perk of being a member at the Athenaeum?

Jenn: I love the events. It’s nice that there’s such a range of people that the BA attracts, different ages, different careers, coming from different areas of the country and sometimes the world. There’s been so many fascinating people working here too. You can have a good conversation anytime you come to the building. 

I’ve never been to something that I thought wasn’t interesting. There’s always a level of quality, and there’s always something to learn, and the speakers do such a great job that any time you end up here for an event, you’re going to come away with something. It’s like, “I’m free, is there something happening?” And there usually is. I think being in a room full of people who are learning things together, you can’t really top it. 

If any, what fictional character or historical figure would you expect to find in the Athenaeum? 

Jenn: I know that Louisa May Alcott was a member, so I’d like to think of Jo March, or really anybody in the March family, having access to this. Not just Jo, but all of the sisters. Music for Beth, and art for Amy, and maybe some social events for Meg. It’s really easy to picture them fitting in here. I always like that this is a family place, too, so it makes me happy to think about the March family being able to visit as a group.  

Learn more about membership.