The Map Room Tea Lounge Grand Opening!
A few months back, we had the chance to visit the Boston Public Library’s Map Room Tea Lounge on the day of its soft launch. We were the first patrons through the door and we felt like total stars. Is it lame that we’re such library fanboys? I think not!
The soft launch was all well and good, but May 21 was the formal launch (which is kind of a misnomer since, come on, it’s all about the cocktails!) and we wanted to be there. Our wish was granted but, sadly, only one of us was able to attend. (The other was on a SharpOrange assignment in Philadelphia.)
First, let me say that this event was fancy - with the emphasis on fan because we’re huge fans of libraries! Outside the Tea Lounge, a fellow painted to look like a bronze statue stood stock still on a plinth beside the door (later, he would be seen wandering around handing out literary-inspired fortunes). Upon entering, a beautiful assortment of breads and meats and cheese was spread before me. Teeming trays of hors d'oeuvres were circulating around the room and the cocktails! Oh, the cocktails - each with a literary theme - were there for the drinking. Delicious!
Once I had a cocktail - and my bearings - I investigated the space more carefully. In one corner of the lounge, a lone violinist stood on a plinth of his own, playing an assortment of numbers ranging from classical favorites to “Eye of the Tiger.” He was good and the playlist was interesting.
In the next room (which is the formal tea room), there was another bar with additional cocktails and champagne. Models, wearing outfits designed by students of the School of Fashion Design, stood on platforms (what was with all the platforms and plinths?) around the perimeter of the room looking fabulous.
The crowd, too, was fabulous. There were the Davids, a makeup artist and his husband/business manager; there was, Michelle Simpson, the executive director of the School of Fashion Design, whose students supplied the fashions on show and the amazing “Tea Dress”; there were the staff of the Tea Lounge, whom we’ve now met many times; and there were librarians and library staff and library trustees! What a ball!
The event was so unlibrary-like in so many wonderful ways. The Boston Public Library - and its team and trustees - have pushed the envelope on what a library can be and that’s super cool. When we travel to libraries beyond Boston and tell people about the Tea Lounge and the WGBH studio they are so surprised and impressed. I had a chance to chat with a few trustees and was impressed myself by the creativity and commitment they bring to this institution. Boston is rightly proud of its beautiful library and the Map Room Tea Lounge is a wonderful addition.