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An Urban Bibliophile’s Paradise

If your favorite part of Beauty and the Beast is that kickass library, then you’ll be enchanted by... read more

Reviewed October 6, 2018
LikeItsMyJob
,
Boston, Massachusetts
via mobile
A peaceful and elegant traditional library

Reeling from the barrage of words from the driver on the Old Town Trolley Tour, we escaped into... read more

Reviewed September 16, 2018
hoteljunkie99
,
Emsworth, United Kingdom
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All reviews private library open to the public non members the granary burial ground vast collection several floors highlight of our trip freedom trail libraries gallery sculptures art tours history knowledge
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Reviewed October 6, 2018 via mobile

If your favorite part of Beauty and the Beast is that kickass library, then you’ll be enchanted by this hidden gem in the heart of Boston. Four reading rooms, each two stories, stacked with old volumes and complete with ladders for accessing the upper shelves. If you are not a member, you need to do the official tour in order to see the cooler reading rooms, so make sure you check the tour times.

4  Thank LikeItsMyJob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 16, 2018

Reeling from the barrage of words from the driver on the Old Town Trolley Tour, we escaped into this wonderful calm space in the heart of the city. Admission is $10, which seemed fine to us; you are required to put your bags into a (free) locker, but the request was made in such a respectful manner that I didn’t bristle as I often do on such occasions. The interior is beautiful, with rows of traditional library shelves as well as paintings, sculptures and other artworks. There is a section devoted to LGBT art. There is a very moving small library given in memory of someone’s son, and great emphasis is placed on the accessibility of the library for children.
The front door is a gem too, bearing the number 10 ½; reminiscent of Harry Potter!
This was without doubt the highlight of our trip to Boston.

Thank hoteljunkie99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 10, 2018

We visited several years ago and found the collection to be amazing. As others have noted, this is a private library. So if you visit, it's best to put on your best - think old school - library manners!

1  Thank skeghaus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 3, 2018

Up above the Granary Burying Ground and behind the red doors is an absolute gem of history, art, and knowledge. Registered for the tour way ahead (they fill up quickly), they now charge a small fee to attend. There are lockers right inside for your belongings, coat, and umbrella, and you check in right inside at the desk. The docents begin in the hall to the left, and proceed through the building, visiting several floors to take in this incredible spot. There are great pieces of art, including a 2nd George Washington model proposed for the Public Garden, many paintings, lovely furnishings, glass floors, and a volume bound in human skin (I passed on that exhibit). There is a passion among the docents when I have taken the tour, and they all present different facts and detail. Just the view to the Granary out the back windows is worth the tour...but the tours are equally wonderful.

4  Thank o2bcre8ive
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 1, 2017

Understand that they are a private club but as members of a national association, we have access to the art collection. The web site offers hours but when you arrive, the collection is closed....and I can see it immediately to my left. They are not interested in potential viewers. We will not spend time trying to visit the collection a second time.

3  Thank RonL40
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 14, 2017 via mobile

Open only occasionally to the public, this private library is magnificent! Take the stairs to the 5th floor and work your way down. You’ll find Washington’s private encyclopedias, a vast collection of (very) old and new books, quiet sitting areas, a great art collection, and an amazing conservation studio.

Staff is extremely welcoming and enthusiastic about telling you about their collection and additional “fun facts”. The second floor gallery is THE BEST photo op! Very cool examples of book conservation in the basement.

If you live in Boston, consider a membership! It’s hard to leave without one!

*Note- bags must be stored in FREE lockers. No food or drink (obviously).

Thank carawasthere
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 12, 2017

I stumbled across this Boston library by accident and went in because it is the oldest library in the U.S. It may be a members only library but visitors can walk around and look at some of the books and art (paintings and sculpture). You do have to be respectful and quite but most libraries are like that. I really enjoyed the art and the fact I had the place to myself made the visit enjoyable. You need to check your bags but they have lockers for that purpose. Definitely worth a look if walking by. It's free too.

Thank Jim W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 14, 2017

This members only library is a hidden public Boston attraction. I happened to read about it in one travel blog (no others that I read mentioned it) and since I have an appreciation for art and libraries, I thought I'd check it out. From the second I walked in, the place and the people who worked there had this snobby vibe. I understand that they want to keep it as quiet and empty as possible for their private, paying members, but then why even open it to the public if they're going to act like they don't want tourists visiting? It took me longer to put all of my belongings in a locker, give them my license, sign in, and get the schpiel than it did to walk through the 3 rooms that I was allowed to go in. It definitely wasn't worth my time and I didn't like the feeling of being judged and "checked in on" as if I was going to steal a book or painting. Do yourself a favor, go to the Boston Public Library instead...it's a large space to wander around in, free, and breathtakingly beautiful. And also pay to go to the Museum of Fine Arts, definitely worth your time and money too!

1  Thank JJ811
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 22, 2017

It was open to the public when my wife and I happened to be walking by, just lucky I guess! We were just hoping to see the Granary Burial Ground located directly behind this place, possibly this was a special exhibit because there were some amazing plaster statues and busts from the 1800's. It's quite small, we took our time looking at the artwork, it was just marvelous. Oils of our founding fathers are on the walls, just GREAT!! The only drawback is that it is quite small.

Thank Steveage
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 21, 2017

Yes, sure, most tourists are lining up to visit the Freedom Trail in Boston. But one of the places that you may not want to neglect is the Boston Athenæum, a library which usually allows non-members to visit its ground floor. But this library is full of history and its past members include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Quincy Adams and J. F. Kennedy. All nostalgic tourists should be not miss this library. To visit other floors if you are not a member is easy: call ahead for a free guided tour a few weeks before you arrive Boston and make an appointment.

1  Thank RaymondHua
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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