Prahran Mechanics' Institute

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Prahran Mechanics Institute - High Street building (on right) opened in 1915.

Prahran Mechanics' Institute (PMI) is a subscription library situated at 140 High Street, Prahran, Victoria, Australia.

The Prahran Mechanics' Institute was established in 1854 in Chapel Street, Prahran by subscriptions of the local community. It is one of the oldest surviving Mechanics' Institutes in Victoria and one of only six still operating a lending library. It is the only mechanics' institute in Victoria still governed by its own Act of Parliament, which was enacted in 1899.


In 1908 the Prahran Mechanics' Institute established the Prahran Technical School which operated on the High Street site from 1915 until 1971. In 2004 the High Street building was included in the Victorian Heritage Register[1] for its architectural and cultural significance.

From 1990 Swinburne University of Technology partially occupied the buildings under the auspices of a lease granted to the Victorian Minister for Education in 1947 for the accommodation of the Prahran Technical School. The lease was for a shilling per year for a term of 99 years. In 2009, needing income and space for the library, the PMI sold the High Street building to the university. The PMI then purchased a building in nearby St Edmonds Road, Prahran and will relocate in 2014.

Since 1980 the library collection at Prahran Mechanics' Institute has specialised in the history of Victoria and, as the only lending collection of its kind in Australia, is a valuable resource for researchers.

On 26 May 2009 Keith Dunstan OAM accepted patronage of the PMI.

In the long tradition of mechanics' institutes around the world, Prahran Mechanics' Institute runs a programme of educational activities including free public lectures. It also operates Prahran Mechanics' Institute Press, a not-for-profit publishing service for authors of works about aspects of the history of Victoria.


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