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Open House

Open House 2017Free and open to the public.
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (no entry after 4:00 p.m.)

Step behind the Athenæum’s red doors on Saturday, May 16th, for the institution’s 6th Annual Open House.

Visitors will get a rare glimpse of the library’s members-only areas – the entire building, including the iconic fifth floor reading room, will be open for self-guided tours. The Open House is a great opportunity for members and the public to learn more about the Athenæum’s history, its collections, and its landmark home at 10½ Beacon Street.

Guests will encounter portions of George Washington’s personal library; the oldest remaining colonial library in Boston, the King’s Chapel Collection; impressive works of art by John Singer Sargent, Gilbert Stuart, Polly Thayer Starr, N.C. Wyeth; and much more.  Docents will be located throughout the building to share interesting tidbits, detailed facts, and answer any questions visitors may have about collections, programming, and membership.


Click here to register for Open House.

Touring the building will take approximately 90 minutes.

Wait-times should be expected for on-site registration. All visitors will need to check-in upon entry. 


Bag and Coat Check

Please store all bags and other containers in the complimentary, self-serve lockers in the vestibule. Only small personal items such as wallets, eyeglasses, phones, and keys are permitted inside the building. The Athenæum reserves the right to inspect any items brought onto the premises.

Please leave large items at home. All articles must be claimed from the lockers before the building closes for the day. A replacement fee of $100 will be assessed for any lost key. Food and other perishables, liquids, and explosives may not be stored in lockers. For security reasons, the contents of any locker may be subject to inspection at any time. 

To ensure the safety of the collections, backpacks may not be worn in the building. 

A security officer will inspect all bags and containers, without exception, upon departure.

Food and Drink

Food and drinks, including those in a covered container, will not be permitted in the building.


Non-flash, still photography via hand-held devices is encouraged unless otherwise noted.  Tripods and selfie-sticks are not permitted.

Cell Phones

All cell phones must be silenced. Phone calls will not be permitted within the building.

Parking and Directions

Information regarding parking and directions can be found in the sidebar of this page. 

Traveling with Children

Children of all ages are sure to enjoy the Athenæum. Stop by the Children's Library for a kid-friendly scavenger hunt to take with you on your self-guided tour.  Please note that strollers and back-pack style carriers are not allowed. Limited space is available to check strollers, but visitors are encouraged to avoid bringing them to the building, if possible.  A baby changing table is available in the women's restroom on the first floor.


Certain areas of the building, including the Drum and outdoor terraces are not wheelchair accessible. The Athenæum welcomes your personal wheelchairs, walkers, and scooters; however, none are available for rent on-site.  None of the doors are on power assist.

Already a Member?

Members and their guests will be permitted to skip the line and enter through a special member designated check-in.  Please note, however, that for safety and security, there will be no members-only areas during the Open House.  Certain stacks will be inaccessible, including portions of the Drum, the Basement, and Lower Pilgrim.  Certain member services will be suspended on this day.  Learn more about what to expect as a member.

Please note that some of these policies may differ from standard procedure during typical operations.


The first floor of the Athenæum is always open to the public for visits.  Attend an upcoming public event, or join a docent-led tour.


Contact Visitor Services at 617-720-7604 or email