Ali and gallery friend Paul took a quick visit to the Boston Athenæum yesterday afternoon. After being greeted by these beautiful doors, she knew she was in for a treat!
Founded in 1807, the Athenæum was modeled after the Athenæum and Lyceum in Liverpool and contained "the great works of learning and science in all languages." The great works, however, were not limited to books, but extended to include art and artifacts. Though it changed locations often during its early years, it has called 10 1/2 Beacon Street home since 1849 when its current building was completed by architect Edward Clarke Cabot. Since then it has received a few updates and additions to accommodate the growing collection but the feel as remained consistent, a place that "serves as a stimulating center for discussions among scholars, bibliophiles, and a variety of community-interest groups."
The Athenæum's current art collection contains over 600 paintings and sculptures. Since its founding in 1870, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has always had a close relationship with the Athenæum. The MFA's early exhibitions were held at the Athenæum and when the MFA got a building in 1876, the Athenæum placed a major portion of its art collection in the museum.
In celebration of that partnership, the Athenæum is opening an exhibition titled Brilliant Beginnings: The Athenæum and the Museum in Boston. Set to open February 12, 2013 and run through August 3, 2013, the exhibit will feature diverse artifacts from the Athenæum's collection that have special meaning to the early collaborations between the two institutions.
Today, in addition to its wonderful collection of books, art, and artifacts, the Athenæum offers a variety of events including bringing in leading authors, hosting lectures and discussion groups, concerts, and art exhibitions, wine and cheese receptions, and events for kids in the children's library.
We encourage anyone who hasn't visited the Athenæum to spend a little time there!