Saturday, October 16, 2010

Safari #14: Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

Guilty as charged.  I've passed the Boston Public Library (BPL) in Copley Square more times that I'd like to admit.  As a buyer rather than borrower of books, I didn't think that the library had much more to offer outside of books and research materials.  After a recent visit, I learned how wrong I was. 

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:

The Entrance Stairway.  From the murals and fixtures to the and visually appealing marble, the entrance stairway is stunning.  When facing the stairwell, head towards the lion on the left side. Don't forget to rub its tail for luck.
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.

Quick Tips:
  • 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.

1 comment:

  1. I've never been on the tour! I am trying to come up with a Boston "bucket list" to do over the next year and I'll add this to my list.

    P.S. I love having a public library card! It's how I get travel guides, among other things.