Melbourne's history, from settlement to the present day, has been shared with the Melbourne Athenaeum, originally named the Mechanic's Institution, a not-for-profit organisation founded in 1839.
Many histories have been written about Melbourne's people, politics, administration, settlement, immigrants and commerce. The story that unfolds here is about a unique organisation which continues to contribute to the city's culture in a building that was first completed in 1842.
Exhibitions, meetings, musical, theatrical and other entertainments, films, lectures, educational classes, dances and formal balls have been held within the building's walls. The theatres continue to entertain Melbourne's people and provide a space for social and cultural events.
At one time there was a museum in the building, and later an art gallery. The library, which was started in 1839, continues to provide an excellent service to its members in the city, suburbs and country areas (30,000 volumes at the last count).