Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library information

Boston , USA
700 Boylston St
Getting there
Bostont: Copley
More information
admission free
Opening hours
9am-9pm Mon-Thu, 9am-5pm Fri & Sat year-round, 1-5pm Sun Oct-May
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Dating from 1852, the esteemed Boston Public Library lends credence to Boston’s reputation as the ‘Athens of America.’ The old McKim building is notable for its magnificent facade and exquisite interior art. Pick up a free brochure and take a self-guided tour; alternatively, free guided tours (times vary) depart from the entrance hall.

This original BPL building, inspired by Italian Renaissance palazzi, features Daniel Chester French’s enormous bronze doorways, flanked by iron gates and lanterns. From there a marble staircase leads past Pierre Puvis de Chavannes’ inspirational murals depicting poetry, philosophy, history and science, which he considered ‘the four great expressions of the human mind.’

The staircase terminates at the splendid Bates Hall Reading Room, where even the most mundane musings are elevated by the barrel-vaulted, 50ft coffered ceilings. Nearby, the Abbey Room is named for the author of the 1895 murals recounting Sir Galahad’s quest for the Holy Grail. The 3rd floor features John Singer Sargent’s unfinished Judaic and Christian murals, which were criticized for anti-Semitic messages.

Besides this amazing artistry, the library holds untold treasures in its special collections, including John Adams’ personal library. Frequent exhibits showcase some of the highlights – check the BPL website for details. An inviting cafe, Novel, overlooks the enchanting Italianate courtyard, which is a peaceful place to read.