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28 June 1837 Mechanics Institute - SA Institute

 28 June 1837   Mechanics Institute - SA Institute

A public meeting, with David McLaren in the chair, was held on 28 June 1837 to discuss the formation of a Mechanics Institute. In February 1839 the Library of the Institute, which held its meetings in a small wooden building on North Terrace, near the present Railway Station, was opened for the public. In 1844 the South Australian Subscription Library was formed, and in 1848 the two societies combined. At this time the amalgamated society met in the Exchange Building on King William Street. 

In 1856 the government passed an Act to establish the South Australian Institute under the control of a Board of Governors. The Institute was to include a public library, museum, and conduct lectures on a variety of subjects. By affiliation, it also brought together all the colony's cultural societies. The first stage of a new building, on North Terrace, was erected in 1859, although not officially opened until 29 January 1861, and the second stage was added in 1906. 

In 1874 a commission of enquiry found that the building was too small to contain a library, museum and cope with its other functions. Consequently the library and museum were separated and new buildings to house them were constructed alongside the Institute Building. These were the Jervois Wing (now the Mortlock Library) and the North and East wings of the Museum. In 1884 the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery came into being in place of the South Australian Institute. However, the Institute Building continued to house the Royal Society, Royal Geographical Society, and the South Australian Society for the Arts. It continues to be the home of the Royal South Australian Society of Arts, with the History Trust of South Australia as well as the Community Information Support Service of South Australia and the Women's Information Switchboard as tenants. In 1993 it underwent some refurbishment both inside and out.

The Observer, 2 February 1861, p.3, 14 June 1884, p. 33.
usan Marsden, Paul Stark, Patricia Sumerling (eds), Heritage of the City of Adelaide, Corporation of the City of Adelaide, 1990, pp. 260-261.

Tags: Mechanics Institute later SA Institute