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The Melbourne Athenaeum

Architect: Smith & Johnson

City of Melbourne | C48

After land had been purchased in 1840, Australia’s third Mechanics’ Institution was built on Collins Street in 1842. Originally a two-storey rendered brick building, it has been renovated and extended several times to accommodate Melbourne’s changing cultural needs. The building as it now stands was designed in 1921 by the architects Henry White and Gurney, with the modern theatre built inside the old hall. The awning was added at this time, and the work was completed in 1924. Melbourne’s oldest operating lift was installed to serve the library and the second floor in 1930. The building is currently home to a retail outlet, restaurant, 900-seat theatre, smaller black-box space called the Athenaeum 2, and the library on level one.

Need to Know

  • Open: Thursday 1 January 10am-4pm

  • What's Open: The library and building foyer

  • Tour Type: C48

  • Access: Pram accessible, Limited mobility

  • Building Type: Cultural

  • Facilities: Toilets

  • Special Programming: The library will have an artist in residence, Deborah Klein, working in the space and exhibiting her works.

  • Year Built: 1842

  • Transport: Tram stop: Collins St/Melbourne Town Hall on routes 1, 3/3a, 5, 6, 8, 11, 12, 16, 67, 72, 109

  • Photo Credit: Janine Eastgate


188 Collins St, Melbourne 3000, VIC


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