Boston Public Library Tours | Visitor's Information

Updated: April 25, 2023

The Boston Public Library is a gem of architectural design in Boston and the best way to visit it is with one of their Free Art and Architecture Tours.

Be sure to look into other Things To Do in Boston while you're visiting! Our post has kid and budget friendly suggestions, as well as the top things attractions and Boston must-sees.

Getting to the Boston Public Library

The BPL is located at 700 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116.

The closest T (subway) station is Back Back, from where it's only a 3 minute walk.

Boston Public Library Tours

For general visits or just to take a peek inside, the Boston Public Library is open:

Monday-Thursday 9am-8pm

Friday and Saturday 9am-5pm

Sunday 11am-5pm 

Boston Public Library Tours

Boston Public Library (BPL) offers free Art and Architecture Tours, which are designed to highlight the beautiful library and surrounding area, as well as the important artwork in and around the library. 

This is a great way to get to know one of Boston’s most famous buildings, and it’s free!  

When the BPL was first opened it was touted as a "Palace for the People" with lavish decorations and lots of public art, including a mural by John Singer Sargent.  

The BPL has the country's first children's room, and has a central courtyard that resembles a Renaissance cloister.  It is truly one of Boston most spectacular and generally unappreciated public buildings!

Guests can expect to see the architecture of its famed Central Library buildings by Charles Follen McKim and Philip Johnson as well as the art treasures within, including works by Daniel Chester French and John Singer Sargent.

Details: The Art and Architecture tours are offered every day at different times:

  • Mondays at 2:00 p.m.
  • Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m.
  • Thursday at 6:00 p.m.
  • Fridays at 11:00 a.m.
  • Saturdays at 11:00 a.m.

Please see the library's scheduled holiday observances: tours will not occur on these dates.

The number for general tours inquiries is 617-859-2216. There are no reservations required for their free public tours, but individual parties of 8 or more people are asked to book a separate private tour with at least four weeks’ notice.

Tours begin in the McKim Vestibule off the Dartmouth Street entrance.

What to Do Near the Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library Tours

There is so much to do in the Back Bay area of the city that it’s a great excuse to spend the day there, explore the shopping and dining on Newbury Street; check out the Prudential and John Hancock Buildings, Boston’s 2 tallest buildings; stroll down residential Marlborough Street and head to the Boston Common. 

With Beacon Hill and the Boston Common on one end and the Symphony Hall (which also offers free tours), Northeastern University and the Museum of Fine Arts on the other end, the Back Bay is one of Boston’s most active and exciting areas.

In fact, why not make a day of it and take our Back Bay Tour for an in-depth look at the whole area.  Our tour is offered every Tuesday at 10am, and lasts an hour and a half.  

It begins on the steps of the library and concludes at the Common, leaving you plenty of time to explore, eat and sightsee before heading back to the library for their Art and Architecture tour at 6pm.  

Here are a couple of food ideas in the area - The BPL has its own Courtyard Restaurant, there is a SweetGreen across the street which offers yummy design-your-own salads, if you're looking for pizza, head to Scoozi on Newbury, or head into the Prudential Building (the Pru, to the locals) and check out their assortment of restaurants and their food court.

About The Author

Brian Burgess

I was born in Cambridge and have been living in the Boston area all my life. I am a graduate of Boston's Emerson College with a degree in communications with a journalism/history focus. I have been leading tours for Free Tours By Foot Boston since it was started in the city of Boston in 2012, and enjoy sharing my knowledge of Boston's rich history with not only the guests on my tours, but with everyone I meet. <a href="" Read More...
Updated: April 25th, 2023
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