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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. 

When you arrive, please:
  • Store your personal belongings in a complimentary, self-serve locker in the vestibule
  • Silence your cell phone
  • Turn off your camera flash
  • Check in with our friendly staff at the circulation desk to purchase a ticket or to have your membership card scanned
During your visit, please:
  • Take or place phone calls only in the vestibule or in the phone booths located on the first floor
  • Keep all beverages covered 
  • Indulge your curiosity
  • Ask us questions!


Bicycle racks are available in front of the building.

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

Free, self-serve day lockers are available for members and visitors to store bags, coats, and other personal belongings during their visit. 

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


A wheelchair lift is located just inside the red doors. Press the doorbell next to the lift for assistance. Public spaces on the first floor are wheelchair accessible.

Please review the Athenæum’s Accessibility Guide (PDF or Wordfor detailed information for the whole building. Call 617-227-0270 prior to your visit if you have specific questions about any type of accessibility at the Athenæum.


Please store all bags and other containers in the free, 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. 

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. 

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 always 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.