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Tour Information and Schedule

Central Library

Public Tours | Private Tours | Student Groups | Visiting on Your Own | Accessibility | Volunteer Opportunities

 

Public Tours

exterior view of Boston Public Library Central Branch

The Boston Public Library offers daily tours highlighting 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.

Free public tours are offered to visitors by trained volunteer guides. Please note that unauthorized guides are not permitted to lead tours within the library.

Tours last approximately one hour and begin from the McKim Building vestibule, through the library's Dartmouth Street entrance.

If your party is smaller than 8 people, you can join the public tour without a reservation. For parties of 8 or more people, please refer to information on private tours below.

The following is a list of currently scheduled tours:

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

Private Tours

a tour underway

Private groups of any size up to 60 people may request an Art & Architecture tour outside of the daily public tour times. Individual parties larger than 8 people are not permitted to join a public tour and must schedule a separate private tour.

A minimum lead time of four weeks is required for private tour requests; bookings are subject to guide availability.

Each guide can accommodate up to 20 visitors; a $100 fee per guide applies. An invoice will be sent to the billing addressee listed on the tour request form. Please note that at least 24 hours’ notice is requested in order to issue a refund for cancelled or rescheduled tours.

Tours last approximately one hour and begin from the McKim Building vestibule, just through the Dartmouth Street entrance.

Due to a high volume of requests, we are at capacity for private tour bookings through Saturday, May 19, 2018. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Schedule a private Art & Architecture tour
(form opens in new window)

Student Groups

If you are a teacher or professor planning to bring your students for a self-guided Art & Architecture tour of the Central Library, please contact the Tours office at tours@bpl.org or 617-859-2216 to register your group (please allow a minimum of 3 weeks before your planned tour).

If your student group prefers to arrange a private Art & Architecture tour with a BPL guide, please refer to the section on Private Tours above.

Any student group attending a private tour must provide one adult chaperone per 10 students. The tour material is currently recommended for middle-school age and above.

School groups seeking a tour of the library's collections and/or services for students should contact the Children's Library, Teen Central, or the Research Services Department.

Visiting On Your Own

Israelites Oppressed mural

Please note that unauthorized guides are not permitted to lead tours in the library. All group tours must be led by an approved BPL-trained guide or staff member. For information and policies on groups, please contact tours@bpl.org or 617.859.2216.

The following guides are available to those experiencing the Central Library's art and architecture outside of a group:

Accessibility

While attending Art & Architecture tours, you can expect an hour of walking and standing throughout three floors of the McKim Building. Every floor is reachable by elevator if you are not able to use the stairs.

If you or a member of your party requires accessible entry or metered accessible parking, we recommend entering through the 700 Boylston Street entrance (Johnson Building) and taking the Glass Elevator up one half level to the first floor of the McKim Building. From there, you will find a route across the courtyard without stairs to the McKim vestibule, where tours begin.

If you are unable to bring your own wheelchair or have any questions about accessibility on our tours, please email tours@bpl.org or call 617.859.2216.

Volunteer Opportunities

For more information about the program requirements and the responsibilities of volunteer Art & Architecture tour guides, please refer to the position overview (PDF).

While we are not currently recruiting volunteer Art & Architecture tour guides, you are welcome to submit an application for consideration in the future. Interested candidates should complete the application form (Microsoft Word) and send to tours@bpl.org or Tour Guide Program, Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116.