Founded in 1807 as a private reading room, library, and art museum, the Boston Athenaeum became a haven for scholars, artists, authors, and their well-bred Brahmin backers. Today, the Athenaeum is the oldest cultural institution and largest membership library in North America. Its current building, designed by Edward Clarke Cabot, opened in 1849 on Beacon Street.
A hallowed depository for many original works-from paintings and statuary to the private book collections of generals George Washington and Henry Knox-the Boston Athenaeum has served as home-away-from home for prestigious authors and scholars for almost two centuries. Among these were Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott in the 19th century and Doris Kearns Goodwin, David McCullough and Ken Burns in the 20th.
10 1/2 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108