We Bostonians should be proud to know that our library was the first free, municipal, public library in the United States (say that to yourself a couple of times). Pretty amazing. With this spirit in mind, the library was painstakingly designed as a testament to spirit of learning and the appreciation of the arts. The best way to learn about the library is to take a free, one hour guided tour, which focuses on its history, architecture, and art - of which there is alot.
Not to Miss
If you don't have time to take a guided tour, make sure to stop by and see the following sights:
John Singer Sargent Gallery (3rd Floor). Known largely for his portrait and landscape paintings, Sargent is less known as a muralist. When library architect Charles McKim asked if he would paint the third floor gallery, Sargent jumped at the chance. It took him 26 years to paint the gallery, and sadly, he died before being able to finish it (a blank mural represents this). The gallery art was recently restored, so this is a great time to visit and view the refreshed pieces.
The Courtyard. If you're walking from the Johnson Building (the location of the circulation desk), you'll have an unexpected surprise just before you reach the McKim Building. The courtyard made my jaw drop.
- Visit During the Day. While I loved seeing the Courtyard lit up at night, it was difficult to see some of the artwork as the natural light in the galleries dimmed significantly.
- Eat in the Courtyard. Either bring your lunch or buy it at the library cafe and eat outside in the courtyard. What a beautiful setting to enjoy lunch with a friend - or someone special.
- See More Art. The museum displays many historical pieces quite frequently in partnership with other organizations. The current exhibit was of vintage travel posters. The next installation will display vintage postcards from Boston in the 1920's.
- Get a Library Card. Why not? While you're at the library, get a library card from the Circulation Desk. It took me about 5 minutes using my Driver's License.