Monday, November 10, 2008

The Boston Public Library

Read it and weep.

The Boston Public Library is the first library in the United States that was built with public funding and the first library to lend books for free.

5  Side view of the Boston Public Library 

The current building in Copley Square was designed by the famed architectural firm McKim, Mead and White who also designed Penn Station, Madison Square Garden and the Morgan Library in New York.

5  Facade with Bela Pratt's sculpture of Science on the left.

There are two statues on the platform by Bela Pratt.  One is Science and the other is Art.  The facade is flanked by gothic looking sconces that are at once sinister and majestic.  

5 The sconces

5  The Grand Staircase

The central staircase is flanked by two lions created by Louis St. Gaudens and murals of the muses by Pierre Puvis De Chavannes.

5  Pierre Puvis De Chavaness mural.

5  Bates reading room

The reading room has amazing vaulted ceilings and large windows.  One can't help but think that this is what a library should look like.

5  The Abbey Room

This library has a ballroom (actually called the Abbey Room but I'd like to have a party there someday so let's call it the ballroom).  The murals of "The Quest For The Holy Grail" by American artist Edwin Austin Abbey surrounds the room.

5  The Courtyard

There is a wonderful Italianate courtyard with galleries that are perfect for sitting and reading a book or having a snack.  It's very quiet and peaceful.

5  The Novel Restaurant

They have several choices for eating including a formal dining room called Novel.  It seems empty as people seem to prefer the more casual snack bar right next to it.

5  John Singer Sargent Gallery

The Boston Public Library has a whole gallery that has murals by John Singer Sargent.  It depicts scenes from Judeo-Christian history and Sargent worked on a lot of it in a studio in London.  These murals were recently restored and is something to see.  For more about the Sargent murals, click here.

If you are a devout Catholic, you may even want to walk on your knees from one end of the hall to the other to fulfill your "panata".

5  Sargent mural lunette.

5  Mural with highly articulated crucifix

5  Bela Pratt's sculpture of Art overlooking Copley Square and Trinity Church

From what I understand, the Boston Public Library is severely underfunded, compared to the New York Public LIbrary.  A lot of the rare books are deteriorating.  The BPL has 2 curators versus New York Library's 35, so you can imagine how overworked the curators must be.

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