the plymouth athenaeum

The Plymouth Athenaeum founded 1812

  • Annual membership fee includes full membership of the Athenaeum £49.00


The Plymouth Athenaeum was founded in 1812, and since 1819 has been in its present city centre site. The 1819 building, known as 'The Athenaeum,' was destroyed in the 1941 blitz, together with the museum. library and lecture room. The current building was opened in 1961, when the name was changed from 'The Plymouth Institution' to 'The Plymouth Athenaeum'. It includes a local interest library, lecture room, large lounge and a 340 seat theatre. We regret that the theatre is closed from July 30th 2009 until further notice.

The Athenaeum is self supporting and self governing with income based solely on membership fees, theatre hiring fees and donations. We do not receive support from Plymouth City Council, nor from the Arts Council. The Plymouth Athenaeum is governed by a Council elected annually by members. Membership is open to all who are interested in the study and promotion of the arts, literature, science and technology.


The library has roughly 3,500 books and some archival material including complete volumes of Plymouth Institution and Plymouth Athenaeum Proceedings. There are also incomplete runs of the proceedings of Devonshire Association, Doidges Annuals and Western Antiquary.


Built 1961 to replace the original Athenaeum destroyed by the Blitz. The library is small and has a storage balcony.


Private charitable status within the Athenaeum. Registered charity no. 216963