The best way to explore this Boston cultural gem is on a tour, since members of the public not attending a tour are only allowed on the first floor. Opt for staff- or docent-led gallery talks to explore special collections—offered free with admission—or opt for an architecture tour to unpack the building's history. Easily pair your visit with stops at Boston Common, the State House, or the Old South Meeting House, which are all within walking distance.
Things to know before you go
- You can store your personal belongings for free at the Athenaeum's self-serve lockers.
- The Athenaeum requests that visitors set their cell phones to silent.
- Photography isn't allowed in the Gordon Newspaper Room.
- Day passes offering full member access are available for a fee.
- The wheelchair lift is located inside the building's red doors, though only first-floor exhibits are accessible.
How to get there
The Boston Athenaeum is located on Beacon Street in the Beacon Hill neighborhood, just steps from the famed Granary Burying Ground. Since Boston is well-connected by public transit, your best option for visiting is to take the MTBA metro, known to locals as "the T." Take the red line to the Park Street stop. You can also rent a bike and ride to Boston Athenaeum, which offers bicycle racks right out front.
When to get there
The Boston Athenaeum holds weekly public hours, both virtually and in-presence. Be sure to check the Athenaeum's calendar. Since the Athenaeum is in a busy part of Boston—near a handful of the city's top attractions—you can expect more crowds during the peak tourist season, in the warmer late spring and summer months.
What to See at the Granary Burying Ground
Just around the corner from the Boston Athenaeum you can find the centuries-old Granary Burying Ground, originally established in 1660. Stroll among the historic headstones on charming walking paths, relax beneath the shade trees, and see if you can spot the resting place of famed Boston residents like Samuel Adams and John Hancock. The burial ground is free to visit.
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