Central Library Tours

Updated April 2022

The library looks forward to resuming in-person Art & Architecture tours in late June and will announce the public tours schedule on this page when more information is available. In the meantime, individual visitors are welcome to explore the building on their own using the free Art & Architecture booklets available at public service desks. Any questions about the program and future offerings may be directed to tours@bpl.org or 617.859.2216.

Please note that we are not accepting private tour requests at this time.

Take Flight at the Central Library

Take flight with this brand new footage, featuring sweeping shots of Copley Square and the Boston Public Library’s 1895 McKim Building, a National Historic Landmark in the heart of the city’s Back Bay neighborhood. This drone sequence was captured by the team at Above Summit, and offers a unique series of perspectives on the art and architecture of the beloved Central Library in Copley Square.

BPL and Above Summit are excited to offer this teaser for a larger project, which includes a 360-degree interactive virtual experience, as well as a narrative tour for patrons near and far to enjoy and learn more about the history and design of this incredible building.

This immersive filming has been made possible by the Boston Public Library Fund with the generous support of Bank of America.


Public Art & Architecture Tours


The landmark Central Library in Copley Square features notable architecture spanning three centuries, as well as treasured art and decorative installations within. A summary of key points of interest can be found on our Art & Architecture page, opens a new window. All in-person Art & Architecture tours are suspended until further notice. Patrons visiting the Central Library should refer to the “Visiting on Your Own” section below. Unauthorized guides are not permitted to lead tours within the library. When planning your visit, please make note of days when the library will be closed due to holidays, opens a new window; inclement weather may also affect opening hours.

Private Art & Architecture Tours

We are not currently accepting requests for future private tours. As unauthorized guides are not permitted to lead tours on BPL premises, patrons may refer to the “Visiting on Your Own” section below.

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). 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 LibraryTeen Central, or the Research Services Department.

For groups that are interested in a visit to the Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center, please visit their website.

Visiting On Your Own

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 guide is available to those experiencing the Central Library's art and architecture outside of a group:

Art & Architecture of the Central Library in Copley Square (Virtual Booklet)

Free printed booklets are available on-site for patrons. For more information about art and architectural points of interest in the Central Library, please visit our art & architecture page.

General Building Resources:

Accessibility

The McKim Building has Art & Architecture points of interest across three public floors. Every floor is reachable by elevator if you are not able to use the stairs. The Dartmouth Street (McKim Building) and Boylston Street (Boylston Street Building) entrances are both accessible. If you are unable to bring your own wheelchair or have any questions about accessibility while exploring the building, 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 (PDF) and send to tours@bpl.org or Tour Guide Program, Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116. Please contact volunteer@bpl.org or call 617.859.2304 if you have an questions.