We are delighted to welcome you to the Providence Athenæum! A nearly 200-year-old circulating library, the Athenæum invites both members and visitors to explore our historic home, history, and collections.
Suggested donation: $5/person (upon arrival)
Free admission is extended to members of the Athenæum, other membership libraries, and NARM; RISD faculty, staff, and students; and children.
Please check in at the Visitor Center when you arrive.
Tuesday — Saturday: 10am-6pm
Summer Hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day)
Tuesday — Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday — Monday: closed
The Athenæum is closed on the following holidays:
– New Year’s Day
– Martin Luther King Day
– Presidents’ Day
– Easter Sunday
– Sunday before Memorial Day (Brown University graduation)
– Memorial Day
– Independence Day
– Labor Day
– Indigenous Peoples’ Day
– Veterans Day
– Thanksgiving Day
– Friday after Thanksgiving Day
– Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day (please note winter holiday hours may vary slightly each year)
Please note: the Athenæum occasionally closes due to inclement weather, utility work, or construction projects. If there is a parking ban in Providence, the library cannot open. If in doubt, please call ahead!
The Athenæum is located at 251 Benefit Street, at the corner of Benefit and College Streets.
The library has two entrances. The main doors on Benefit Street are accessed up a flight of granite steps. The rear entrance, up the hill on College Street, does not require stairs. Visitors may enter through either door.
There are four clearly indicated parking spaces in a lot directly behind the Athenæum off of College Street. We ask that members and visitors please sign in at the Circulation Desk while using one of the spaces and only use the spaces while in the library.
Street parking is also available. Two- to three-hour parking is available on Benefit Street and the surrounding streets. While the area can be busy during the day, parking becomes significantly more available after 5pm and on weekends.
There are several garages and lots that offer hourly parking on North and South Main Streets. Click here for an interactive parking map of Providence.
Our nineteenth-century home offers stairs-free access at the rear entrance on College Street. The levels are linked internally by a staircase; there is no elevator at present. The mezzanine level is accessible by staircase only. For those with mobility concerns who wish to enter at the lower level into the Reading Room, there is a door near the corner of Benefit and College Streets. Please call the library before your visit for access to the corner door (401-421-6970). A family-friendly restroom is off the lower level Reading Room.
The Athenæum is both a historic space and a contemporary lending library located on Providence’s beautiful Benefit Street. During your visit, you will likely see members browsing the shelves, making use of library alcoves, and checking out materials as they have done for centuries. Non-members are invited to explore all three floors of the building during their visit and can learn more about the library’s history and collections with a self-guided tour.
Children are always welcome. Leashed, well-behaved dogs can find treats waiting for them at the Circulation Desk. Please note that children under 10 years old and dogs are not allowed on the mezzanine level for safety.
When you enter the library, please check in at the Visitor Center, located to the left of the main entrance. Here, staff will help orient you, provide a self-guided tour book, and give you a sticker to wear during your visit.
For more detailed information, please review our visitor guidelines.