Ballarat Mechanics Institute

Architect: Charles Boykett, 1860


Building Description

The Ballarat Mechanics’ Institute sits in the heart of the city and has been Ballarat’s independently run cultural hub since 1859. It houses a lending library, heritage collection, and archives—including the recently acquired Max Harris Collection of historical Ballarat imagery—as well as spaces for hire, and a growing calendar of cultural events. The BMI’s Heritage Reading Room combines unique heritage architecture with one of the best examples of a Mechanics’ Institute library collection. It is of historical significance for its strong association with the Mechanics’ Institute movement and the important role it played in the intellectual, cultural and social development of Victorians throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. The room is steeped in history; it is the only remaining part of Ballarat’s first Mining Exchange—scene of the hustle and bustle of Ballarat’s share brokers and mining community of the 1860s and 1870s—and has also housed the institute’s lending library since 1934. After restoration work in the 2000s, the room now houses the heritage book collection and artifacts, and also hosts revolving exhibitions, events, and performances.


117 Sturt St, Ballarat Central VIC

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