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Academic Group Visits

The Boston Athenæum happily welcomes groups from secondary and post-secondary schools to use the institution’s special collections for instructional purposes.

To schedule a class visit to use the Paintings and Sculpture collection, please contact David Dearinger, Susan Morse Hilles Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at or 617-720-7674.

To schedule a class visit to use materials from the Boston Athenæum Archive, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Maps, or Prints and Photographs collections, please refer to the guidelines below and complete the class request form.

Our curatorial team is pleased to facilitate use of special collections materials for instructors to teach classes on-site at the Boston Athenæum. Unlike libraries and museums affiliated with colleges and universities, the Boston Athenæum does not have a dedicated staff of instructors, therefore classes must be taught by the organizing teacher or professor with guidance from the Athenæum’s curatorial and library staff.

Adherence to the following guidelines will help ensure that academic groups have a successful experience at the Boston Athenæum:

Prior to a class visit:
  • Class visits must be scheduled at least 6 weeks in advance with the relevant curator or staff person. Every effort will be made to accommodate preferred time and date, however availability for classes is limited and time is scheduled at the discretion of the curatorial staff.
  • The class instructor should meet with the relevant Boston Athenæum staff person at least 4 weeks prior to the class to go over learning goals and select appropriate materials for the class. Instructors are encouraged to search the Boston Athenæum’s catalog prior to this meeting to identify material of interest. Reference librarians are happy to assist instructors with catalog searches. Every effort will be made to provide access to the desired materials. However fragile materials, materials being processed, or other restrictions may limit the availability of some materials.
Class visit:
  • Group size is limited to 10 students in the Prints and Photographs Room and to 15 students in the Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow Special Collections Reading Room.
  • Although an Athenæum curator or other staff person will be present, the teacher or professor of the group must teach the class.
  • The curatorial staff can support a group’s learning goals by offering information about curatorial work, such as: how books, documents, and artworks are selected for acquisition; how items in special collections are handled, cataloged, stored, and interpreted; and how the staff uses materials in research, exhibitions, and programming.
  • Boston Athenæum staff will have materials available in the appropriate special collections room on the day of the class visit. Special collections materials may only be handled by curatorial staff.
  • The Boston Athenæum’s Guidelines for the Use of Special Collections apply to all students and instructors who participate in the class visit.

Please contact Hannah Weisman, Director of Education, at 617-720-7617 or if you have any questions.