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Take a Tour

Take a tour

The Boston Athenæum offers a variety of tours and talks to help visitors and members engage more deeply with the institution’s history, collections, and resources. 

ART AND ARCHITECTURE TOURS

Open to the public
$2 plus admission / free for members
Reservations are strongly recommended
Call Visitor Services at 617-720-7612 to register

Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m.
Thursdays at 3:00 p.m.
Saturdays at 11:00 a.m.

These docent-led, hour-long tours focus on the architectural history of the Athenæum’s building and on the institution’s fine arts collection. The Athenæum’s current home—it’s fifth—opened in 1849 and has been expanded and renovated twice, once from 1913 to 1915 and again from 1999 to 2002.

Throughout its history the Athenæum has collected a range of materials, including rare books, manuscripts, works on paper, paintings, and sculpture, as well as an impressive circulating and reference collection. Docents discuss the wide range of special collections and feature selected artworks throughout the tour. 

Tours are limited to 8 visitors and often sell out. We recommend making a reservation two weeks to a month in advance. Walk-ins are welcome on a first-come, first-served basis if space permits. 

UP CLOSE TOURS

Open to the public
Free with admission
Reservations are strongly recommended
Call Visitor Services at 617-720-7612 to register

Wednesdays at 11:00 a.m.

Join a Boston Athenæum docent for a 30-minute exploration of the first floor. These discussion-based tours encourage visitors to look closely at materials from the Athenæum’s rich collections and consider them within a particular context. The theme for each tour is listed on the Athenæum’s events calendar.

Tours are limited to 8 visitors and often sell out. We recommend making a reservation two weeks to a month in advance. Walk-ins are welcome on a first-come, first-served basis if space permits.

TOURS IN FRENCH AND SPANISH

Open to the public
$2 plus admission / free for members
Reservations are strongly recommended
Call Visitor Services at 617-720-7612 to register

Check the events calendar for dates

The Athenæum is proud to offer its Art and Architecture Tours in Spanish and in French on a monthly basis. View the listing of upcoming tours on the events calendar for dates and times. 

Tours are limited to 8 visitors. We recommend making a reservation two weeks to a month in advance. Walk-ins are welcome on a first-come, first-served basis if space permits.

BUILDING ORIENTATION TOURS

For members only
Free
Reservations are not necessary​

Wednesdays and Saturdays at 12:00 p.m.

Designed for new members and current members who would like a refresher, these tours will introduce you to the Athenæum’s grand, historic building at 10½ Beacon Street and familiarize you with the various library and research services that are available to all members.

Tours begin at noon sharp. Please meet at the Circulation Desk on the first floor.

FAMILY TOURS

For members only
Free
Reservations are required
Call Visitor Services at 617-720-7612 to register

Saturdays at 1:00 p.m.

The Children’s Library offers tours of the Boston Athenæum for school-aged children and their families. Take in the dramatic view from the top of the spiral staircase, try out the moveable compact shelving in the basement, go back in time in the Drum Stack with its glass floors. Maybe even hear a ghost story!

GROUP TOURS

The Athenæum happily schedules private tours for groups of 5 to 20 people with a minimum of two weeks’ notice. Tours can be scheduled during public hours and are subject to the availability of docents. Private tours cost $10 per adult (ages 13 and up) and $5 per child (ages 5 to 12). 

To schedule a group tour or to inquire about our rates and opportunities for school groups, please contact Hannah Weisman, Director of Education, at weisman@bostonathenaeum.org or 617-720-7617.