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What to Expect

1st Floor Bow Room

The Boston Athenæum is a unique place with treasures around every corner. We ask visitors and members to help ensure the safety and comfort of all people in the library, and the security of the Athenæum’s collections and historic building. 

With the benefit of member insights and feedback, we developed an exciting plan for the expansion and evolution of the Boston Athenæum.  This means that things will be a bit different until the fall.

As the renovation is underway on our first-floor, we will not be able to accommodate first-floor visitors. However, we encourage you to book a tour, purchase a day pass,  or become a member!

Planning a safe visit
When you arrive
  • Starting April 11, 2022,  our 10 1/2 Beacon Street entrance will be closed and members and visitors will enter through our 14 Beacon Street entrance, a few steps away from the iconic red doors at 10 1/2. Join our Director Leah Rosovsky as she gives a short video tour of the temporary entrance.

    When you arrive at the temporary entrance, you'll use a touchpad to be welcomed in. Leah walks us through the simple steps: Press the touchpad. Press "Directory." Press "Boston Athenæum." Press "Call," and a member of the security staff will buzz you in.

  • Store your personal belongings in one of the free lockers in the lobby. Large purses and backpacks are not allowed inside.

  • Silence your cell phone
  • Turn off your camera flash
  • Check in at the front desk to purchase admission or to have your membership card scanned
During your visit
  • Phone/Zoom calls are only allowed in the lobby or in other areas designated by staff at the front desk.
  • Keep all beverages covered.



Bicycle racks are available outside.

Coat racks and an umbrella stand are available in the lobby.

Free, self-serve day lockers are available for storage of bags, coats, and other personal belongings. 

The Boston Athenæum is not responsible for lost or stolen items, for items left on the coat racks, or for articles left overnight. 


Review the Accessibility Guide for detailed information. Call 617-227-0270 if you have questions.


Please store all bags and other containers in the free, self-serve lockers in the lobby. 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.

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. 

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 but must be carried in the building. 

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


The Boston Athenæum permits flash-free photography with some restrictions. Tripods and selfie sticks are not permitted. Photography is not permitted in the Gordon Newspaper Room or during events. 

Requests for photo and film shoots are considered on an individual basis and must be submitted to 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.


Visitors and members are welcome to carry and use cell phones in the building provided they are set on silent and the user is not speaking into the phone. Cell phone calls are permitted in the vestibule or in the phone booths located on the first floor near the restrooms.


Beverages in closed containers may be carried into the Athenæum. Food is permitted only during special events, in the Members’ Lounge, and on the Members’ terraces. 

Food and drink are prohibited from the exhibition gallery.


Service animals are welcome.

Boston Athenæum Members may bring one well-behaved dog on a leash into the Athenæum. Pets are prohibited from the exhibition gallery. 


Weapons of all kinds are prohibited from entering the Athenæum, including—but not limited to—knives, firearms, pepper spray, or mace. Scissors, other sharp items, explosives, lighters, and matches are also prohibited.


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