When most people travel someplace to take in the sights, the Public Library usually isn't included in their list of must sees. The Boston Public Library is an exception to this rule. Located right on Copley Square, the McKim Building is a work of art, and feels more like a museum than a public library. The building is imposing on the outside, and even more beautiful when you step through the doors. The center staircase, outside courtyard and Bates Hall Reading Room are just some of the special places in this library. There are also museum quality Exhibits. When we were there they had two terrific exhibits: one showcasing the library's extensive Joan of Arc books and manuscripts. And the other showing the evolution of World Map making. There are also wonderful murals lining most of the walls.
This is a good library. However, don't just go there for the books. Go there and explore the old half of it. Up on the second floor there's a Sargeant Mural about Religion that is very interesting and a great work of art.
Also be sure to enjoy the courtyard, weather permitting, of course. Ocassionally, a bum will park him or herself within your sniffing distance. It's a library, it's free, you'll have that! In which case, just get up and find another seat!
It's the first publicaly supported library in North America and it's 150 years old. Lovely building on the inside though it doesn't look like much from the outside. High ceilings, marble staircase, frescoes all over the walls. The reading room is bright and sunny. There's an outside courtyard which the building is formed around. One room had dark marble and wood paneling and a marble fireplace and beamed ceiling. Another small room contained glass enclosed dioramas of various scenes. For example there was one of the Parisian painter Toulouse Lautrec backstage at a circus, one of Rembrandt sketching in someone's house and another artist painting a medieval building. Also a prize fight, and an army squadron marching across the Sahara desert. These were all donated by the artists wife. The library is free to go in and look around and is quite interesting if you like that sort of thing.