Founded by Act of Parliament in 1854 for the ‘Diffusion and Advancement of Science, Literature and Art amongst all Classes of Persons resident in Birmingham and Midland Counties’, the BMI is a membership organisation which has a thriving programme of cultural and educational activities, including a wide spectrum of arts and science lectures, exhibitions and concerts. Both members and the general public are encouraged to participate. The building is also a venue for many externally-organised events and can be booked for conferences and meetings. The Institute library can trace its lineage back to 1779. The library was incorporated into the Institute in 1956. The Library collection is gradually growing by the regular purchase of new books, principally on the field of humanities and modern fiction.