Ballarat Icon Preserved

Works have been completed on the Ballaarat Mechanics Institute’s basement to ensure it is preserved and protected thanks to funding from the Andrews Labor Government.

The Ballaarat Mechanics Institute received $175,000 from round four of the Living Heritage Program for works to the basement of the iconic building, which was built in 1869 as an addition to the original 1860 building.

The organisation is one of the few in Victoria that have continuously provided library services to the community. Their collection contains a number of significant books, newspapers and journals from Ballarat and overseas dating from 1845.

The important collection, including early colonial publications and books on mining, natural science, exploration and history, is separately included on the Victorian Heritage Register.

The heritage works, which were supported by the City of Ballarat and Central Highlands Water, mean that the building’s basement can now be safely visited by the public and BMI members for the extensive outreach and educational programs it provides.

Project Architect Wendy Jacobs focused on maintaining the original, industrial character of the space including the iconic early candle smoke graffiti which tells stories of Ballarat’s past.

The $60 million Living Heritage Program is the largest ever Victorian Government investment in the conservation of Victoria’s significant heritage places and objects.

The program launched in 2016, and through the 2019-20 State Budget has been extended to 2023.

The Government has invested an extra $9 million over four years for competitive community heritage grants targeting ‘at risk’ heritage places and objects.

Quote attributable to Member for Wendouree Juliana Addison

“The Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute is one of our city’s great community assets. The Andrews Labor Government recognises the significance of this iconic building and are proud to be a part of preserving it for future generations.”

“The dedicated team who manage the venue run outstanding programs and events, and the restoration of this space will provide many opportunities to continue that excellent work.”

Quote attributable to City of Ballarat Mayor, and Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute patron, Cr Daniel Moloney

“Congratulations to the volunteers at the Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute on securing this grant for one of our city’s most beautiful and well-loved buildings. The City of Ballarat has proudly supported the restoration of the BMI over many years, and this funding from the Victorian Government will enable the final piece of the puzzle.”

Quote attributable to Acting President of the Ballaarat Mechanics Institute Paula Nicholson

“Preservation and restoration of our basement will ensure the Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute can continue bringing new experiences to the community. It will attract people to our beautiful city, and helps tell the story of our rich past.”

“Citizens of Ballarat can be very proud of our 160 year old icon, and in completing this restoration the BMI can offer yet another unique experience to new audiences within this magnificent heritage building.”

Quote Attributable to Project Architect Wendy Jacobs

“This is perhaps the least known but one of my favourite parts in the building. It is terrific that the funding became available to tackle the basement so we could share it again.” 

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