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Boston Public Library
Tour Information and Schedule

Central Library

Public Tours | Private Tours | Exhibition Tours | School 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 larger than 8 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.

Due to a high number of tour requests, we are at capacity for private tours through June 2015. If you would like to book a tour on or after July 1st, 2015, please refer to the tour request form below.

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.

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

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

Exhibition Tours

Free tours of the We Are One exhibition are offered twice weekly (Thursdays and Saturdays at 2:00pm) between June 4th and October 15th, 2015.

A smart phone tour of the exhibition is available at www.bpl.org/mobiletours.

School Groups

School groups attending a private Art & Architecture tour must provide one adult chaperone per 10 students. The tour material is currently recommended for middle-school age and above. For information on pricing and to submit a student tour request, please refer to the section on Private Tours 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 Reference & Reader's Advisory 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 accessible by elevator if you are not able to use the stairs, and a wheelchair ramp allows inclined access to the McKim vestibule, where the 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 requirements and responsibilities for tour guides, please refer to the position overview (PDF).

If you are interested in applying to serve as a tour guide, please complete the application form (Microsoft Word) and submit to tours@bpl.org or mail to: Tour Guide Program, c/o Meghan Weeks, Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116.