The Boston Athenaeum is the most gorgeous library you’ve never heard of

Boston has no shortage of historical buildings, but the Boston Athenaeum is by far one of the most resplendent. Breathtaking Renaissance Revival architecture, lush decor, and over a half million precious books make this sophisticated library one-of-a-kind and a must-visit destination in the city.

The Athenaeum has been hiding from Bostonians in plain sight this whole time, its Potter-esque address on Beacon Street unfamiliar to most. But Athenaeum employees are doing their best to change that.

“We want to be available and open to people who are interested,’’ said Michael Jugenheimer, the director of communications for the Athenaeum. “We have a number of wonderful things here, and we want folks to be able to enjoy them.’’

The Athenaeum hosts lectures, concerts, book talks, art exhibitions, and functions throughout the year that are open to the public. They are offering Art and Architecture tours every Tuesday and Thursday in November, giving everyone and anyone the opportunity to experience the beauty of the Athenaeum firsthand.


And if you do get the chance to see it up-close-and-personal, join the ranks of the rest and post it online. The athenaeum is one of the most Instagrammable places in town.

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Membership typically costs around $17 a month, though there are different prices and discounts for certain demographics. Membership is available to anyone who wishes to join–and the Athenaeum appeals to just about everyone.

“Most folks would find something here that they enjoy,’’ Jugenheimer said. “I’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t find something here of interest. If you’re ever bored in a library, I’m wondering why.’’

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They also have a host of digital resources available to both members and non-members. Their rapidly-growing digital collection is accessible online and features Confederate imprints, rare books and photographs, and even a digitized version of the Boston Directory up until 1900 (the Yellow Pages before there was a Yellow Pages).

If you do choose to obtain a membership to the Athenaeum, it comes with the privilege of finding refuge from the urban lifestyle without ever having to leave the city.

“We’re a little more off the beaten path,’’ Jugenheimer said. “We’re a retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.’’

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