The Gallery

John Flexmore held exhibitions in the 1970s and this is his quick sketch of the space in a quiet moment of his exhibition. A painting by John Flexmore (c.1970) hangs in the Melbourne Athenaeum Library. The painting and sketch were donated to the Melbourne Athenaeum by the Flexmore estate.

The Athenaeum Art Gallery was officially established in 1910 when R.W.E. Wilmot, secretary from 1909 to 1949, decided to develop the small hall into an exhibition space for the artists. The Athenaeum Gallery, as it was called, became a popular venue for professional and amateur artists alike. Annual reports from 1910 to 1971 give detailed information on the activities and events of the art gallery, and serve as a testament to its popularity. Click here to view a list of exhibitors.

In 1913 the art gallery was lauded as the best gallery in Australia, and it was considered one of the best venues to host art exhibitions in Melbourne. The high calibre of the art gallery was reflected in its early bookings, which sometimes necessitated booking a year ahead. This was in part due to the continuous architectural improvements to the gallery to manipulate lighting, as well as the installation of the lift in 1930, which improved access to the gallery on the second floor.

The gallery was dissolved in 1971 due to low patronage and the Melbourne Theosophical Society took over the space. Following this the space has been used as a small performance and rehearsal venue for various productions.