Designed by Sir Charles Barry in the Italian palazzo style, the
first such building in the city, it was originally a club built for the
Manchester Athenaeum, a society for the "advancement and diffusion
of knowledge", in 1837. It became the centre for Manchester's literary
life and within four years it had over 1,000 members. Charles Dickens
and Benjamin Disraeli addressed its membership in the 1840s.
The club declined after 1935 and Manchester Corporation acquired
the building in 1938. In 2002 it became part of the art gallery,
linked by a glass atrium. It is a grade II* listed building.
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