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Plan Your Visit

1st Floor Bow Room

A portion of the first floor is open to the public for browsing, including the Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery, the Bayard Henry Long Room, and G. d'Andelot Belin Bow Room.

The Children's Library, Albert Gordon Newspaper Reading Room, and all other floors are open to members only. We invite visitors to view the entire building during one of our regularly scheduled Art and Architecture Tours, conveniently offered four times each week.

In July and August, the circulation desk will be temporarily relocated to the first-floor Bow Room during renovations. Please pardon our appearance and any noise disruptions during this period.


  • Bicycle racks are available on the piazza. 
  • A wheelchair lift is available at the entrance. Visitors with mobility impairments are welcome to contact the Boston Athenaeum with questions in advance of a visit (tel. 617-227-0270).
  • Coat racks and an umbrella stand are available in the vestibule.
  • Complimentary, key-operated day lockers are available for use by members and visitors to store large bags, coats and jackets. 
  • Clear plastic bags are available to hold small personal belongings (such as wallets) during a visit.


  • A security professional will greet you upon entry.
  • Guests and visitors are required to leave all bags and other containers in a complimentary locker. Only small personal items such as wallets, eyeglasses, phones, and keys are permitted. The Boston Athenæum reserves the right to inspect any parcel brought onto the premises. 
  • Employees and members (active annual subscribers with library borrowing privileges) may bring reasonably sized bags into the Athenæum. To ensure the safety of the collections, backpacks may not be worn in the building, but must be carried. 
  • All bags and containers, without exception, will be checked upon departure by Security.

Plan ahead! Please leave large items at home.


  • Knives, scissors, and other sharp items  
  • Firearms, explosives, lighters, and matches
  • Pepper spray, mace


  • All articles must be claimed from the lockers before the Boston Athenæum closes. A replacement fee of $100 will be assessed for any lost key.  
  • The following items are prohibited from the lockers: food and other perishables, liquids, and explosives.
  • For security reasons, the contents of any locker may be subject to inspection at any time.  
The Boston Athenæum is not responsible for lost or stolen items; for items left on the coat racks; or for articles left overnight.


The Boston Athenæum permits photography, with certain restrictions:

  • Flash photography, tripods, and selfie sticks are not permitted
  • Photography is not permitted during events
  • Photography is not permitted in the Gordon Room when readers are present
  • Photography is not permitted  in the Norma Jean Calderwood Exhibition Gallery
Requests for photo and film shoots are considered on an individual basis and must be submitted to Hannah Gersten, Manager of Communications, at at least two weeks before the requested shoot date. Venue rental fees may apply.
For rights and reproduction requests related to collection materials, please visit our Rights & Reproductions page.


During the warm months and during daylight hours, members may eat on the second- and fifth-floor terraces. Food is not permitted in other areas of the building at any time, except during special events with the exception of the Members’ Lounge on the 5th Floor. Beverages in closed containers are allowed. Food and drink are never permitted in the art galleries.


Members and visitors are required to silence their cell phones upon entering the building; texting and internet use is allowed as long as the ringer is off and the user is not speaking into ​the phone.​ Speakers must be silenced on all electronic devices, including cell phones. Cell phone calls are permitted in the​ main vestibule or in one of the two phone booths located on the first floor near the restrooms.


WiFi access is available throughout the building. Ask a staff member or consult the signs throughout the Library for the WiFi password.


Members are allowed to bring a well behaved dog on a leash into the Athenæum. Pets are NOT permitted, however, in the Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery at any time.

Please see our complete list of Rules & Regulations for more information.