In 1874 the Victorian Academy of Arts erected a bluestone gallery at the rear of their 1873 land grant. In 1888 the Academy amalgamated with the Australian Artists' Association to become the Victorian Artists' Society. Richard Speight won a competition for extensions to the old gallery and the present two storey brick structure was completed in 1893.
Sculptured panels were intended to fill the blank spaces on the first floor.
Most of Victoria's prominent artists have been associated with the Society and this building. The facade is one of the finest examples of the late nineteenth century Romanesque Revival in Victoria. Its quality is derived from the high standard of the decorative mouldings, the half columns, cornice and foliated panels. The massing of the basement in bluestone, grand arched entrance and first floor arcade are notable features.
The exterior is largely intact except for the entrance doors which are of a more recent date (the original stained glass above has been retained). Several original features remain in the interior which requires renovation.