Boston Central Library - Copley Square

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700 Boylston St. (Copley Square), Boston, MA, USA
Boston Central Library - Copley Square - Additional murals by Purvis de Chavannes.
Boston Central Library - Copley Square - Main Staircase with marble lions by Louis Saint-Gaudens and murals by French artist Purvis de Chavannes.
Boston Central Library - Copley Square - John Singer Sargent's Triumph of Religion.
Boston Central Library - Copley Square - Mosaic ceiling of the Entrance Hall.
Boston Central Library - Copley Square - Courtyard featuring Bacchante and Infant Faun by Frederick MacMonnies.
Boston Central Library - Copley Square - Exterior of the Central Library in Copley Square. Designed by Charles McKim, featuring work by Bela Pratt, Domingo Mora, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
Boston Central Library - Copley Square - Barrel vaulted ceiling in Bates Hall.

Boston Central Library - Copley Square Reviews

jenniescharm jenniesc…
88 reviews
Amazing Art & Architecture at the Boston Public Library Apr 02, 2012
Of all the museums I’ve visited in Boston, my favorite is most certainly the Boston Public/Central Library in Copley Square. Yes, you read that right. One of the best places in my opinion to see amazing works by John Singer Sargent, Puvis de Chavannes, Charles F. McKim, and William MacMonnies among others is the Library. While the collection isn’t nearly as extensive as what can be found in an art museum, the building is stunning, the crowds are usually minimal and you can sit or wander for hours.

Designed as a building for the ages, the Boston Public Library on Copley Square opened its doors in 1895 as a replacement for an earlier building that the City quickly outgrew. Impressive inside and out, the building is noted for its perfect proportions and classic serenity. Marble of every shade can be found in the floors, staircases, sculptures, and fireplaces. An amazing barrel vaulted ceiling brings light to the second story reading room. From the bronze doors on the first floor to the intricate murals on the third, masterpieces can be found around every corner.

Public tours are available every day of the week when the library is open. They last about 1 to 1-1/2 hours and are given by volunteer guides. No appointment is necessary. Tours meet in the lobby of the McKim Building (Dartmouth Street entrance). Please note that for groups larger than 8 you’ll need to book a private group tour. While the regular drop-in tours are free, there is a fee for a private group tour.

Currently tours are scheduled as follows:

•Monday 2:30 p.m.

•Tuesday 6:00 p.m.

•Wednesday 11:00 a.m.

•Thursday 6:00 p.m.

•Friday 11:00 a.m.

•Saturday 11:00 a.m.

•Sunday 2:00 p.m. (October through May)

If you can’t make a guided tour or prefer to go it alone, guides are available online at

The Library also features various exhibits and has an excellent map room. If you happen to get hungry or thirsty while visiting, the Map Room café is open 9:00am-5:00pm Monday -Saturday. The Courtyard Restaurant is open for lunch (11:30am-2:30pm Monday- Friday) and tea (2:00pm-4:00pm Wednesday-Friday, reservations required).

With or without a snack, be sure to schedule some time to rest in the Roman-style courtyard. The statue of Baccante and Infant Faun in the center of the fountain caused quite the scandal in Boston when it was introduced to a very conservative Victorian crowd, prompting comments along the lines of “a monument to inebriety” and “a memorial to the worst type of harlotry with which the world was ever afflicted.” (The original ended up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. The statue currently on display is a casting made from the casting on display at Boston’s MFA.) By today’s standards, I think it’s quite tame.
Abbey Room - The Quest of the Holy…
Barrel vaulted ceiling in Bates Ha…
Exterior of the Central Library in…
Courtyard featuring Bacchante and …
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